Big mother blackberry lives for another day

Hi All,

As I am holed up ill at home rather than out there in the 30C heat in central Launceston tackling the Mother of all Blackberries tangled up in a Satsuma plum tree in the back yard at my daughters, I will share some more of my brother’s lovely photographs with you. My brother belongs to the great outdoors. He will spend hours, days even, outside. He loves nothing more than heading out in his 4 x 4, canoe, boat or on foot to discover everything about the environment that he finds himself currently in. His current environment is close to heaven. I grew up in the small town that my brother lives in. I went to the same small little school; I had my swimming lessons at the same magnificent natural rock pool known as Greens Pool. I walked these beaches as a child when my parents would go fishing. I hunted for small fish, shells and sea anemones in these same rock pools. The world might go on, but some things remain constant and the sea is one of those enigmas that can transport you back to your childhood with a vague hint of salty air, or the scent of some river mud. My brother was showing me around town when I stayed with him. The architecture has most definitely changed. There are a lot of New Agers in Denmark and so the general population now appears to wear less footwear and more hair. Everything is “Eco” and “Environmental” and “Green” but this isn’t a bad thing at all. Denmark has changed from a sleepy little logging town to a must visit destination on the tourist map. It felt surreal to have lunch with my son where the grocers used to be. I remember tailing my mum as a small child and smelling the grocery smells and now you can have a Tiger Chai Latte and a Vegetarian burger. Life has certainly changed in town but it’s when you head out to the surrounding countryside and out to the beach you can see how very little the past 100 years has affected this land.

Enormous granite boulders litter the countryside pushing up out of the ground like massive monoliths and the karri and jarrah trees bank right up to them

Sorry about how small these panoramas are but its the only way that you can get to see the dense tree cover around these massive great boulders. If you click on the photo you can see it better :o)

Another teeny panorama but showing you how Denmark, like Tasmania, tends to have 4 season in 1 day. It can be stormy and raining out to sea and dry and sunny inland

This is a panorama of the large lake that you have to navigate around the outside of to get to Lights Beach which is the beach that my brother looks out on when he wakes up in the morning. This lake is about 100metres from my brothers tiny stone cottage

This teeny panorama is of an area called “The Petrified Forest”. Back when I was a young child this area was full of free standing petrified trees. The many thousands of years of limstone blowing over the dead forest had turned the wood to stone. Once it became well known as a tourist destination the forest quickly disappeared. You can still find small pieces of petrified wood on the ground but the amazing sight of stone tree trunks is long gone. My Aunt used to live on a property that bordered this area and so we got to see this amazing sight as children.

I showed you a picture of the Hay River where I spent some of my childhood formative years and this is the view from the other direction from the bridge. It truelly was an amazing place to explore and learn about the real world

This is the sort of beach that I spent my childhood on. We learned to swim in places like these and regularly took buses out with our school in the summer. Endless hours were spend exploring the rocks and rock pools to find starfish, large shells with live creatures inside them and sea anemones while our parents fished for King George Whiting.  This sand makes amazing sand castles as well :o)

As my brother and I were driving down to Ocean Beach with our windows down to filter out the heat of the day, we got an instant reminder of our childhoods. The smell of river mud was all pervasive at my grandmother’s house. She lived on an acre of land that went right down to the inlet and as children we would wade in this thick viscous black organic mud to catch tiny shrimp in nets fashioned by my grandmother out of coat hangers and stockings. Later on a tiny little dinghy was added to our repertoire and we would spend hours rowing about the shoreline and investigating hard to get to beaches. I remember rowing out to a small island and feeling like Robinson Crusoe. The Denmark inlet is a most interesting phenomenon. It is a large body of water closed off from the sea by a thin channel of pure white sand. Every year it was a ritual for the locals to gather to watch the bar open. The water in the inlet would swell alarmingly with the rainfall over winter and when it threatened to lap up to the bandstand in town, the bar (the sand channel between the inlet and the sea) would be breached by a large digger allowing the inlet water to flow out, and the sea water to flow in. This was the best time to fish in this area as all of the inlet fish were keen to get out and the sea fish were equally as keen to get in. Each summer as the inlet started to dry out once the bar was open the ever purveying scent of organic black mud would start to emerge. As fecund as it was it reminded Jamie and I of our childhood and made us reminisce and smile. Ocean Beach is the same. It will most probably always be the same. There isn’t much that we can do to the oceans to stuff them up, apart from pinch all the fish. Fishless or not, these waters will keep on ebbing and flowing and the waves will crash on endlessly long after we are gone. I love this constancy. I love the reassurance that there is something so very much bigger than the sum of us.

My brothers boat on a small jetty somewhere in Denmark. I would like to think it is moored on the Denmark River but I can’t quite decypher the surroundings. Ok, for the purposes of this post it IS the Denmark River :o)

This is the view from the sandstone scattered hills down to one of the beaches in Denmark. My brother loves water and has a natural affinity for taking photos of it. Thanks to him, I can share my childhood haunts with all of you

This is the panoramic view of Williams Bay and Greens Pool, a large natural rock pool where it is amazing to swim in the summer. The sharks can’t get in past the rocks!

Part of the rocky barrier between the sea and the land. This is where so many of the children in the area learned all sorts of lessons about the natural world that surrounded us in the most amazing and beautiful of settings

I love the colours of Western Australia. The rocks form a stark contrast to the sea and the limestone cliffs echo this contrast. The ever moving sand dunes join in to form an endlessly moving stand still environment in a constant state of flux whilst remaining steadfast against the battering of time.

My brother gets up early and heads out into his own personal wilderness. He has the time and patience to sit still, waiting for things to happen. I seem to have lost some of my ability to do this. As a child I spent most of my life (when I wasn’t forced kicking and screaming to school…) in the bush. We lived on a 100 acre property that bordered the Albany Highway and down to the Denmark Inlet. We were the property once removed on the left hand side of the Hay River and we played in the dam, on our own personal little beaches, making sandcastles and wandering the bushland looking for wildflowers. I never wore shoes. My feet were toughened like leather and despite being somewhat less than slender, I was everywhere. We only had water from Rainwater tanks and my sister and I would climb up the tank stands to the 3 enormous rainwater tanks that serviced the property and would hunt frogs. I remember the water flow in the taps in late summer when the tanks were getting low slowing to a trickle before a half decomposed frog would shoot out of the tap restoring the pressure. We had a well on the property. Not a pretty little wishing well but a hole in the ground covered over by a bit of corrugated iron with a bucket suspended on a bit of rope that you could lower down into the well to collect some dank aquifer water. My sister and I (7 and 9 years old respectively) decided that as we were a bit too big to get into the bucket to be lowered down to catch the elusive frogs that sat on the ancient moss and algae covered slippery beams that we would put our 4 year old brother into the bucket and lower him down. This happened a few times until dad was made aware of our nefarious activities and gave us a stern talking too along the lines of “Don’t put your bloody brother down the well!” We come from stubborn stock and so my sister and I ignored this dire warning and proceeded to lower our protesting sibling down the well. We had wound the bucket halfway up and our brother had a fat green wriggling frog in either hand when dad came around the corner. Stubborn we might have been but stupid we were not! Dad + disobedient daughters = thrashing. We let go of the rope and ran. Our 4 year old brother, who couldn’t swim went careening back down into the well and after retrieving him from the well and finding him sodden but otherwise unharmed, and after having to hunt most of the 100 acres for the pair of us we received said thrashing which gave us a character lesson for the future.

2 of the local natives hunting the shoreline for tasty debris

This is where most of the non fishing confraternity  used to end up sitting and reading, eating sandwiches (with a good proportion of “sand” thanks to the relentless wind) and roasting our poor pallid bodies to a blistering crisp. Most of these rocks have stately regal names but the natives call that rock on the left hand side “Elephants bum rock”…nothing like a group of locals fishing over a few beers to take a regal and most majestic rock down a peg or two…

I love the colour contrast between the rocks and the green/blue water. Tourists flock to this area in summer and you can see why

These rocks go for miles and I spent many hours of my non fishing childhood (I don’t like gizzards) wandering over and around these rocks.

Here’s the last photo of this amazing natural rock pool. As you can see it is quite calm inside the rocks but outside the natural rocky barrier between the sea and this calm still pool the waves thrash the rocks. Sharks can’t get in, most large fish can’t get in and its a most amazing place with green water and pure white sand for families to spend a few blissful hours on a warm summers day.

This is a photo of the Denmark River. You can’t take a large boat too much further than this so that is why my brother is now armed with a canoe.

This last photo is of a place called Madfish Bay. This isn’t too far from my brothers home and the water that you can see cascading down in a small waterfall is pure and fresh. You can drink out of that tiny stream and I have camped next to this waterfall. Imagine being lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves crashing on the shore (the tide isn’t all that extreme here unlike Tasmanian tides that rip through twice a day) and waking up to find that the seagulls have eaten all of your bait…oh well, back to the drawing board! :o)

This land is full of large trees. Mainly Karri, Jarrah and Sheok. The land gets dry and parched but the eucalyptus leaves litter the ground making it a fantastic habitat for animals and wildflowers. There are magnificent granite rocks that force themselves to be noticed above the tree canopies. Moss, lichen, salty green/blue water, pure white silica sand, heat shimmering off the tarmac, huge tall trees and cool undergrowth. Beautiful impossible looking native orchids and the ever present threat of snakes. We had a magnificent childhood. My brother is still able to wander those forests. He can get up early and take his canoe out in the lake behind his house. He can still hunt the frogs that must have left a most indelible mark on his soul and his ever present camera captures the soul of the bush and its inhabitants. My brother and I have always had an unspoken kinship. I don’t know why apart from the fact that the bush is in our souls. You don’t have to say anything; you just feel it coursing through your veins as you traverse its sandy tracks and smell the strong eucalyptus as the day heats up. The cicadas clicking and the tiny wrens flitting about telling you off. At night the lizards eating moths that batter themselves senseless on your outside light. All of these things are part of my heritage and something that I will never forget. Sometimes I feel like a foreigner in Tasmania. It was wonderful coming back home but a part of me will always be wandering the bushland in Western Australia. The land here is volcanic, red dirt, black volcanic soil. The trees are different, ferns and dense undergrowth threaten to carry the mountainous winding roads away and it’s like another world here. I love Tasmania dearly, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t bleed your birthplace out of you, no matter how you try. I just wanted to give you a little bit of history behind these stunning pictures. My brother has the knack of being able to capture the landscape and the more he studies the world with his new camera the better he is going to get. All kudos to his ability to wait for that perfect moment and for his equal willingness to share. Thankyou Jamie for letting me stay with you and for allowing me to share your beautiful, peaceful, precious landscape.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kym
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 13:06:28

    Hope you are feeling better soon Fran. Your body got you home and then said enough! Rest and recoup, make sure Steve looks after you xx


    • narf77
      Jan 24, 2012 @ 14:06:29

      I think my body has had enough of the last 2 years to be honest. I think that it is time for getting healthier and stress less and apart from cleaning out the middle room (you never know when someone will drop in and want to stay for a bit ;o) I have just been trying to recouperate. It’s pretty hot here today (for Tasmania) so we are taking it easy. Now all I have to do is type up tomorrows post and then sort something out for tea tonight. I think soup is probably the way to go (as Stewart says “Soup is foods last chance to be eaten”…).


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