Category Archives: Photography

Switzerland: we are here

 

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Street view at Interlaken…

From urban edgy to outdoor rec heaven, from the steamy heat and energy of a city jammed with people to the crisp alpine air of a town nestled between two lakes – flying from Tokyo to Zurich and jumping on a train to Interlaken in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland feels like intergalactic travel…

Yet both Japan and Switzerland have much in common, including their love of sticking to the rules, their stunning scenery, their strong connection to culture – and how they seem to come alive at night.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Switzerland is definitely a walking culture!

In the evening in the village of Interlaken, everyone is out promenading, eating, drinking, chatting and lapping up the long days before winter sets in.

And when the sun comes up, out they come in their walking gear, with their hiking poles and backpacks…

On our first day here, we join them on Europe’s highest train ride. Along the way, some jump off to walk between alpine villages.

But we’re going all the way – through tunnels chiselled in the mountains, on a railway that is an impressive feat of engineering, up to Jungfraujoch… 3454 metres above sea level.

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While I’m busy taking photos, EB is powering up the slope…

Here the scenery is epic – but there’s no time to get comfortable. EB has spotted a snowy trail disappearing off in the distance.

So off we go, slipping and sliding in the snow. Apparently there’s a café up there somewhere, but it’s way out of sight right now.

This reminds me of our trek in Nepal where the sherpas would smile and say ‘bistaarai, bistaarai’ (slowly, slowly).

With the altitude affecting us a little, we’re taking that advice here… and we definitely lap up the beer and soup in the café that really is there (that’s what I love about Switzerland – you can get food just about anywhere).

As we head back down the slippery slope towards the impressive station at the top of Europe, it’s hard to believe that just a couple of days ago we were bathed in sweat as we walked the streets of Tokyo – and that two countries we never had on our bucket list have managed to capture our hearts.

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Ancient pathways, crater lakes and Shinto shrines

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise Creely

EB in the mist at Station 5, with Mt Fuji up there somewhere!

Some travellers come to Japan just to catch a glimpse of the iconic Mt Fuji – but many leave disappointed.

A local tells us she only reveals herself one or two days of every week so, to the Japanese, Mt Fuji is a beautiful and shy Shinto goddess.

With a typhoon sitting off the coast this week, she’s staying comfortably shrouded in clouds and misty rain. But there is plenty to see in Hakone…

...on the old Tokaido road

…on the old Tokaido road

Down in the valley, Lake Ashinoko is clear and sunny.

We walk around this volcanic crater lake, following part of the old Tokaido road from the Hakone Checkpoint to the Hakone Shrine.

While the Tokaido is now mostly modern highways, this stone-paved section is much like it was back in the Edo-era (1603 – 1867).

Before this heavily-policed road opened up the route between Tokyo and Kyoto, travel was extremely dangerous and roads like this were only used by samurai and bandits.

Copyright: Louise Creely

It’s traditional to wash your hands and rinse your mouth before approaching the shrine…

Today we’re alone on the road, until we reach one of Japan’s four great gates (torii) that marks the entrance to the Shinto Hakone Shrine.

There are three main religions in Japan – Shinto (神道), Buddhism and Christianity.

Most Japanese follow both Shinto and Buddhism traditions – getting married and consecrating their children in the Shinto way but holding traditional Buddhist funerals. 

With Shinto gods protecting them during their life, and the path of enlightenment leading them into the next one, I think they’ve got a pretty workable approach to religion…

Copyright: Louise Creely

Enough about religion. One of the things we love most about Japan is the food. They do it so well, with such ceremony, it makes eating an experience in itself.

Add a sensational view and there’s that religious moment again…

Copyright: Louise Creely


Historical and arty… in Sydney

Just back from weekend wanderings and writing workshop fun in Sydney. Here’s some of the historical and arty things that caught my eye around town…

Most people were checking out the posh boats at the Sydney Boat Show in Darling Harbour, but I was captivated by the ripples…

© Louise Creely. All Rights Reserved.

Definitely painting this one next!                                                             © Louise Creely

EB had me walking for hours, so finding fabulous street art like this was the perfect distraction…

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Taking art to the streets, in a roundabout way…

Here’s a clever way of interpreting history. It really puts you in the picture…

Copyright: Louise Creely

Nicely interpreted: Brown bear lane (then little Essex street) in 1901

We just loved all the square-cut sandstone and the gorgeous plantings at Sydney’s newest harbour foreshore park, Barangaroo Reserve.

Created on one of Sydney’s oldest industrial sites,  the area had been inaccessible to the public for more than 100 years, until it was transformed into a space for the people and opened in 2015.

Copyright: Louise Creely

The Harbour Bridge from Barangaroo

Copyright: Louise Creely

For me, it’s just a reminder that there are amazing and beautiful things all around us… if we really look.

Copyright: Louise Creely. All rights reserved.

Solid as rock…

 


Port Arthur then and now…

Copyright: Louise Creely

It’s been two decades since that gut-wrenching day in April 1996 when a single gunman opened fire in a small, relaxed cafe at the Port Arthur historic site in Tasmania. In those moments, he stole lives – physically and emotionally – and forever changed a nation.

Copyright: Louise Creely

The cafe site has become a peaceful place to remember the 35 souls lost and 23 injured in the massacre…

His heinous act kicked off a push for gun laws in Australia, cementing the resolve of the then-Prime Minister Mr John Howard and his government to make the change happen.

Many Australians have never lived in a time when pump action and automatic rifles were on the streets – and could be bought in a corner store with your milk and bread.

While those terrible moments will never be forgotten here, today the focus has shifted back to the convict era and the former penal colony of Port Arthur remains a fascinating tourist destination.

Copyright: Louise RalphEstablished in 1833 as a timber-getting camp, Port Arthur played a significant role in the story of European settlement in Australia.

But long before Europeans arrived, the Pydairrerme people were the traditional custodians of the land, finding food for the body and the spirit in these wild places.

Over time, their pathways became roads and endless bushland was replaced by sandstone buildings created with convict labour.

The Isles of the Dead where over 1000 military, free settlers and convicts were buried between 1833 and 1877.

The Isles of the Dead where over 1000 military people, free settlers and convicts were buried between 1833 and 1877.

While Port Arthur is renowned for breaking many men, some gained useful skills they would take beyond this place into their life as free settlers.

The penal settlement finally closed in 1877 and, while it became the township of Carnarvon for a while, by the 1920s stories of convict days were bringing in the tourists.

Eventually,  the site was renamed Port Arthur and, over the years, the once crumbling buildings have been beautifully preserved, and the stories artfully captured.

On entry to the site, you’re given a playing card and invited to find your character, then follow ‘your convict’ through the twists and turns of their story.

This cleverly designed interpretation brings their world to life…

Copyright: Louise Creely

art of stone…

It’s a fabulous trip into the past, but don’t pass by the natural wonders of this magnificent coastline. Here’s just a taste… and if you’d like to go, it’s a short road trip north-east from Hobart or jump on a Tasman Island Cruise for the perfect day trip. Bon voyage!

Copyright: Louise Creely 2016

A stunning example of tessellated pavement at Eaglehawk Neck where the rock has fractured to create a mosaic tile look

Tasmans Arch is all that's left of the roof of a large sea cave, carved out by the waves over thousands of years

Tasmans Arch is all that’s left of the roof of a large sea cave, carved out by the waves over thousands of years

 


First stop, Surry Hills

Copyright: Louise Creely

Last weekend we took a quick trip to Sydney to try out a tandem touring bike (as you do), to catch up with family and, the unplanned bit, to fall in love with Surry Hills.

Located on the city fringe, adjacent to notorious Kings Cross and right near Central Station, Surry Hills was once a bit of a slum area.

Today, it’s a melting pot of cultures, with a delicious retro, arty, entrepreneurial flavour – a happening place that has a village feel and a real sense of community.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Sunday breakfast in Surry Hills

Wander along its tree-lined streets window-shopping, then stop for a coffee (or vino) to watch the world go by.

It’s the perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon – and you’re likely to be served by switched-on wait staff, who are easy going and up for a chat.

If you’re keen to see some great parts of Sydney on foot (I’m with EB, so keen or not…) take a stroll past the Domain to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, then walk along the foreshores of Farm Cove to the Opera House, and back through the city to Surry Hills.

Of course, you can always take the civilised option and jump on a train to Circular Quay to catch a ferry around the harbour… but this 1.5 hour easy walk is worth every step.

The ‘civilised’ option comes later at one of our favourite restaurants, Longrain. It’s just down the road from our hotel and a perfectly delicious way to end a great stay in Surry Hills.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Fort Denison is a former penal colony and defensive facility

Copyright: Louise Creely

A swim with a view – a battle ship docked at the Garden Island Defense Base


Coastal wanderings – Crowdy Bay National Park

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I’ve worked out what it is. I’m a natural woman. Not the Woodstock, flower power flavour of natural (although there have been moments…), but natural in a bushland, beaches, rocky coastlines and wildlife kind of way.

I know there are those for whom ‘natural wonders’ equal five stars and a sea horse swizzle stick in their cocktail, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But for me, I feel the most at home in a national park somewhere.

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015It’s where I feel my chest expanding and I can finally breathe – even while scrambling up or down precarious rocky slopes (and that’s saying something when you have asthma!)

We’ve just arrived at Kylie’s Beach camping area in the stunning Crowdy Bay National Park.

It’s a favourite place of ours, even though the beach is particularly windswept today and the water is so icy it makes your feet ache.

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015

Australian author and poet Kylie Tennant’s writer’s retreat.

Instead of braving the icy waves and strong rip for too long, we head off along the coastal track.

Along the way, we pass the restored hut that was once the writer’s retreat of Australian author and poet Kylie Tennant.

At the peak of the hill, we leave the trail to wind our way down to a rocky, windswept headland.

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015

Here, the waves disappear into sea caves and burst through an arch into an amphitheatre carved by time and tides.

As we enter the impressive amphitheatre, the ground moves with a thousand crabs that swiftly disappear into secret places among the rocks and seaweed.

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015Back at camp, a wallaby and her joey feed on fresh spring grass.

The joey looks at us curiously, then nuzzles into mama’s pouch for a milky snack. Eventually, she bats him away and hops off, leaving him to feed on the grass alone.

Above us, a kookaburra perches on a branch, watching us sipping our crispy chardonnay.

It soon leaves to check out other campers who may have meaty treats to share.

A red aphid-like bug lands on my arm… and there’s a black fly in my chardonnay.

There’s a song in that, EB says.

All around us, bush creatures wake to hunt, mate and play under cover of darkness. The roll of distant thunder is oddly soothing and the waning moon is rising.

Ah, this is perfection – and, for me, this takes five stars to a whole new level. Just sayin’…

Copyright: Louise Creely 2015


SWELL’s up at Currumbin Beach

Jellyfish tree by Melissa Hirsch

Jellyfish tree by Melissa Hirsch

For 10 days each September, Currumbin Beach comes alive with creativity and wonder at the annual SWELL Sculpture Festival.

It’s the perfect way to spend a blissful spring day, with over 60 sculptures stretching one kilometre along the beachfront at the southern end of Queensland’s Gold Coast. The only challenge is to pick your favourite.

Created by artists from across Australia and the world, the sculptures range from hugely spectacular to tiny but powerful, with some coming alive at night (in a good way). And each has a story…

Marie-France Rose has created Cirque du Ciel (Circus of the Sky). One of these gorgeously elegant trapeze artists definitely belongs in my garden.

Marie-France Rose has created Cirque du Ciel (Circus of the Sky). One of these gorgeously elegant trapeze artists definitely belongs in my garden.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Tidelines by Tessa Bergen – reflecting the Surfers Paradise skyline, this piece highlights the changing face of our surrounds and the resulting impact on the natural environment…

#thewall by Leonie Rhodes - we've been making wall art since the days of cavemen. It's a valid, expressive and communicative form of art (and I love it!)

#thewall by Leonie Rhodes – we’ve been making wall art since the days of cavemen. It’s a valid, expressive and communicative form of art (and I love it!)

Copyright: Louise Creely

Ghost fish, googlemon and King Coal hit the beach at Currumbin

Roo Shooter by Jimmy Rix:

Roo Shooter by Jimmy Rix: “Some people do it for sport and some people do it for a profession, but I would like to see our Skippy fighting back.”

Magnificient, a life size sculpture of a line by Ivan Lovett - all made out of chicken wire. It really is...magnificent

Magnificient, a life size sculpture of a lion by Ivan Lovett – all made out of chicken wire. It really is…well…magnificent

Ben Carroll does some quick repairs to his sculpture Relics from Atlantis, which won the SWELL environmental award

Winner of the SWELL sculpture aware, Lost and Found by NSW artist Ingrid Morley, reflects

Winner of the SWELL sculpture award, Lost and Found by NSW artist Ingrid Morley, reflects “the tension and final breaking of the rope and the implied loss as the ‘boat’ breaks away”. Morley says her work is “a metaphor for the significant turning points in life”.

I sea by Guiseppe Filardo

I sea by Guiseppe Filardo

Sea tunnel by Adrienne Kenafake

Sea tunnel by Adrienne Kenafake

These are just some of my favourites – but there are so many brilliant works, it’s impossible to choose. I think the last word has to go to Greg Quinton and his Hills Hoist sculpture: You should always know where your towel is.

always know where your towel is


Surprise yourself – on the NSW Central Coast

Some of the most beautiful places in the world are the ones not too far from home. Especially if you live in Australia.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Lake Macquarie from Mannering Point

We recently took off on a quick road trip from Kingscliff to the Central Coast. We may have been on a mission, to get to a family gathering there, but we weren’t out to break any distance records.

For us, there’s nothing better than meandering along the east coast of Australia. And no matter how often we do it, we always find something to surprise us.

Port Macquarie

About six hours after leaving the Queensland border, we arrived at Port Macquarie… and we were ravenous.

So our first stop had to be the Zebu bar + grill at the Rydges Resort, for a warming ‘some like it hot’ cocktail (think delicious bev in a chilli-rimmed margarita glass), a zucca pizza and some local talent at the open mic.

Then it was back to reality. No resorts for us. Time to give our ‘new’ escape vehicle a test run (because we’re on a quest to simplify our lives, but more on that some other 60 seconds).

Copyright: Louise Creely

First night moments…

For our first sleepout in the troopy*, we stayed at the Flynn’s Beach Caravan Park, surrounded by enough nature and wildlife to make us feel at home.

It was a crisp night with a little (well, a lot) fewer creature comforts than we were used to – like a diesel heater and a mattress that didn’t feel like a couple of planks nailed together! And it was only going to get colder as we went south (you can stop smiling now).

We usually stop at Cassegrain Winery while we’re here, but even we have our limits. Well, it was 7.30 in the morning when we left Port…

Norah Head

Just over three hours south, we arrived at Norah Head, a little coastal village near Wyong that hasn’t been yuppified – yet.

It was the first time we’d been here, so of course EB dragged me straight out to ‘stretch our legs’ along the stunning coastline and up to the beautifully preserved lighthouse – with a few strategic ‘getting lost’ moments added in for good measure.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise Creely

The lighthouse was completed in 1903, making the once-perilous shipping lane between Newcastle and Sydney safe at last. The lighthouse was fully automated in 1995.

We were ready to crash that night, in the Norah Head Holiday Park, but the bed was proving a challenge. At least we weren’t reluctant to get out of it in the morning, at the crack of dawn. Again.

Lake Macquarie – Mannering Park

Copyright: Louise CreelyAfter a side trip to Sydney, we arrived back up at Mannering Park Caravan Park. It sits on the edge of Lake Macquarie, an hour north of Sydney.

Twice the size of Sydney Harbour, the lake is the biggest permanent salt water lagoon in the southern hemisphere.

The caravan park seemed like a comfortable place to hang out for a few days, but we were in for a surprise. And it started like this… (cue music)

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Copyright: Louise Creely On our second night there, when the campground was completely silent (and our warm, now seriously padded, bed was waiting) we decide to take one last look at the lake.

And there before us was the most majestic sight – a huge burnt orange full moon in a charcoal sky, slashed across by inky clouds, casting a truly spectacular fiery pathway across the lake towards us.

We’d never seen anything like it – even EB was speechless.

Meanwhile, I was muttering about phone camera inadequacies, punctuated by ‘wow’ and ‘dammit’.

Note to self: Pack your ‘real’ camera and tripod next time. No, every time. 

Coffs Harbour

We usually stop in at Coffs for breakfast, but this time we decided to stay overnight in the Park Beach Caravan Park. We soon discovered it was a walking distance (in sensible shoes!) to the restaurant strip along the jetty and marina.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise RalphIt’s a great place to kick back and watch people promenading and the sun setting, and to spot the plume of a passing whale.

It may have been a quick trip without our usual stops in National Parks, but it made me realise, not for the first time, that some of the most beautiful places in the world are the ones not too far from home. Especially if you live in Australia.

*Toyota Landcruiser Troop Carrier


Sea changing Byron Bay

Copyright: Louise Creely

If you haven’t been to Byron in a while, be prepared to be surprised – and not just by the traffic jam going into the township.

The beach will take your breath away, but not in the usual way.

We’ve been coming here for over 20 years and we’ve never seen it quite like this.

Over the past few months of wild weather, metres of beach have been ripped away, including the fringing coastal heathlands, remnants of which now litter the usually pristine sand.

Copyright: Louise Creely

At the Clarke’s Beach Caravan Park, a place of many memories of crazy camping days with our kids, the stairs to the beach have been trashed.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Stairs to Clarke’s Beach Caravan Park…

It looks like the beach has been totally transformed, ripped away, never to return.

But wait. Long buried fences, uncovered by the waves, are a clue that the dune levels and the beach itself were once at about the same level it is now.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Waves, currents and tides constantly change the shape of our beaches. One day they can be carved away, and days, months, maybe years later, they can be built up again with huge deposits of sand and silt carried in from other beaches along our coastline.

Somehow, Byron’s beaches and surrounds still hold their charm. There’s just something about this place that makes you feel totally zen. And that works for me…

Copyright: Louise Creely

Copyright: Louise Creely


Walk on the wild side – at Binna Burra

Copyright: Louise Creely

Crisp air, sweeping views, birdsong and a nice red… you can just feel the serenity. We’ve arrived at Binna Burra Sky Lodges, in the heart of the Lamington National Park, for some post-wedding R&R.

Copyright: Louise Creely

But it’s not long before EB is scanning the Binna Burra map to find a long, challenging walk for us to do. Clearly ‘relaxation’ is all in the interpretation.

The Sky Lodges are the newest edition to the Binna Burra Mountain Lodge, a nature-based resort founded in 1933, which still has that retro feel.

The beautiful, self-contained lodges are designed to capture the spectacular views across Queensland’s Scenic Rim, stretching all the way to the Gold Coast and the ocean.

EB may have his walking agenda, but I also have mine. So late in the afternoon we emerge, feeling very Zen, from the aptly-named Bliss Massage, to a mountain shrouded in mist – which soon unwraps a stunning sunset. Copyright: Louise Creely

The next morning, we tackle the Ship’s Stern. To say I’m a little anxious is a major understatement. I haven’t done any serious bush walking since we climbed Mt Gower on Lord Howe Island in 2011 and, unlike EB who’s always exercising and has an active job, I spend most days firmly planted at an office desk.

Copyright: Louise Creely

The Ship’s Stern walk descends into the Kurraragin Valley, past towering red cedar, eucalypts and piccabeen palms, and natural viewing spots where looking down makes your legs tingle.

Along the way, dense rainforest gives way to open forest, with sudden transitions to open heathland. In places, the narrow track clings to the mountain edge and the drop-offs are breathtaking.

Copyright: Louise Creely

Pops of bushland colour…

Copyright: Louise Creely

Go fig-ure

When I’m certain we’re nearing the end of the 19km walk, we come across a sign that proves EB right (again). We’ve just passed the halfway point. Ugh.

But surprisingly, my bushwalking legs are back and I’m ready to take on the 9.4km uphill stretch.

Negotiating massive fallen trees and debris on the edge of the precipice along this section of the track soon makes me forget uphill battles and fatigued legs. There’s nothing like the occasional adrenalin rush to keep your energy levels up.

Nature's hieroglyphics

Nature’s hieroglyphics

By the time we reach the end of the walk, I’m skipping – in an exhilarated, kind-of exhausted and lumbering way. I made it – and with far more ease than I expected.

Yes, EB would definitely have arrived at the finish line sooner, but he was very relaxed and accommodating of my slower pace (what a great husband!).

He wasn’t even phased by my constant oo-ah moments, when I stopped to take photos with my iPhone camera (because I wasn’t about to lug my real one on a walk like this!). Copyright: Louise Creely

This was yet another reminder in my life (how many do I need?!) that when you think you can’t do something, you’re often underestimating your abilities because, most times, you can.

Somewhere along the Ship’s Stern, I decided there are so many things in life I can’t not do…

Which leads me to the ‘real’ honeymoon we’ll be taking sometime soonish.

It may involve some serious cycling training… but that’s another story.

Bridal waltzing, lou and EB style

Bridal waltzing, lou and EB style

A wedding postscript: The rain gods cast their blessing on our beach wedding. But, as some wise person once said, when life hands you lemons, make lemonade, then (our addition) splash in the gin and hand it around.

So we took the ceremony indoors, and nothing could dampen our spirits as the night turned into one huge party. It really was one of the best days of our life, shared with our fabulous family and friends.

After 19 years together, raising our blended family, we didn’t expect to feel any different. But we do. We’re primed and ready for getting on with this next phase of our lives… on the flight path.

Copyright: Louise Creely

And he walks in fields of gold…