Before heading to Ypres for Anzac Day, I had been doing some research to find out more about the Ypres Salient and Australia’s involvement. I discovered that about 20 km south of Ypres, amongst all the other Commonwealth War Cemeteries lay one of the only two Australian only cemeteries on the whole Western Front. Ploegsteert or ‘Plug Street’ as it was known to the Allied soldiers was the sight of some intensive combat and also one of the first places where the Germans deployed the deadly Mustard Gas.
The fact that an all Tasmanian company – with men from the same district as my family came from – had been mentioned by an official historian sealed my decision to visit the site.
Traveling through the Flemish country side, it was hard to reconcile the peaceful farm lands of today with what surely must have been the closest thing to hell on earth back then. Only the stark white headstones of the numerous Commonwealth War Cemeteries scattered over the landscape gave any indication of the bitter struggle that had happened here. it was also sobering to reflect on the fact that the remains of thousands of young men on both sides lay beneath these fields, but had disappeared, perhaps forever.
It was a suitably gloomy day as we found our way down country lanes and a final short walk through the woods to find this peaceful last resting place of some Australian Diggers, ironically in a cemetery called Toronto Avenue.
In this quiet little corner of the woods lay the immaculately kept ( as all Commonwealth War Graves are) resting places of 78 Australian soldiers (mostly from NSW). Wreaths had been laid at the central Memorial and each headstone had a small plywood cross inscribed with a message from schoolchildren back in Australia. Even in this far-flung corner of the world they were remembered by their countrymen.
At the end of one of the rows of headstones was a poignant reminder of family bonds. Private J.S Luff had left behind a young family in 1917, in 2013 his Grandchildren had paid him a visit to leave old photos of that family and to let him know that he had not been forgotten.
April 25th is a very special day in Australia. ANZAC Day is a day that commemorates all the Military personnel who did not make it home from the various theatres of war that Australia & New Zealand have sent troops to since the Boer War at the beginning of the 20th century.
ANZAC actually stands for the Australian & New Zealand Army Corps that was formed in Egypt in 1915 and sent to fight in the ill fated Gallipoli campaign in Turkey in WW1. It was there that the ANZAC legend was born and the Australian Diggers are remembered with a traditional Dawn Service and street parades throughout Australia.
Australian troops were involved in the horrors of the Western Front in Europe, where for four long years the opposing sides waged bloody & futile trench warfare with neither side able to score a decisive victory while whole towns were sometimes wiped off the map in the heavy shelling. ANZAC Day is also commemorated in small towns in Northern France where there are many Australians buried.
This time last year, I was in Belgium and had a loose plan of being in France for Anzac Day. When I mentioned this to some Belgian friends, a town called Ypres in Flanders was mentioned as having ANZAC Day ceremonies and that the Last Post was played every evening. I vaguely remembered reading about Ypres and WW1 so I thought “Why not”?
The Ypres Salient was a part of the Western Front that is not as well known about in Australia as Gallipoli or the battlefields of Northern France, yet there are many Commonwealth War Cemetaries, large & small, scattered throughout the peaceful farming lands of Western Flanders in which Australians are buried
The Menin Gate in Ypres is a huge Memorial to the 55,000 Allied soldiers who fought & died in this part of the Western Front and have no known grave. Each of their names are inscribed on the walls of this Memorial.
Of that number, approximately 6000 are Australian, 7000 Canadian, but the majority are by far from Great Britain. It is indeed a humbling experience to walk around this Memorial and when you think about the numbers of men who lost their lives during this futile ,bloody conflict, the thought inevitably comes that those who glorify war have really missed the point & perhaps the politicians who send young people to war should be sent into the battle themselves!
Winston Churchill , when he first saw the utterly ruined town of Ypres, said that the town should be purchased and left in it’s ruined state as a reminder to future generations never to let a conflict like this happen again. The citizens of Ypres had a different view and so the Menin Gate was built to honour those who had disappeared into the Flanders mud. Sadly, the world did not learn from this madness!
After the town was rebuilt, the citizens of Ypres have honoured the Allied soldiers who were stationed in the area, every evening (apart from during WW2) by playing the Last Post. ANZAC Day draws large crowds to remember the fallen from the ‘War to end all Wars’!
I hope you all had a Happy & Safe Festive Season and made lots of great images!
For most Europeans, large cathedrals are probably a bit ho-hum, but for most Aussies, they are not something we see on a regular basis.
So when we travel to Europe we go a little culture crazy, visiting cathedrals,castles and other large old buildings whenever we can! I am no exception and having a camera gives me even more reason.
I had a couple of hours to kill in Edinburgh before catching a flight back to Brussels. Couldn’t leave my luggage at the station so decided to wander around for a little while. Within 10 minutes I came across this magnificent cathedral and managed to get a few images with the 24mm Tilt-Shift lens. The young lady obligingly decided to catch some sun in the arch and gave the image a sense of scale!
All the Best from Downunder!
you may have noticed a lack of posts over the last month! Unfortunately I have been playing medical merry-go-round with a couple of visits to hospital! 😦
Still not 100% but slowly on the mend and hope to be out shooting again soon. Just before this all started,I was in the process of building a website at www.whitsundayphotos.com
It’s still a work in progress but I would be interested in any feedback as to what you think, good,bad or indifferent, leave your comments here on the blog.
After much thought, I recently purchased a Canon 70-200 f2.8 L lens and it sat in my bag for about a week before I put it into action. What a great lens! Sharp as a tack,great contrast & colour and at a good price.
Since then it has been my main lens and has tackled everything from yacht racing & landscape to a bit of candid street photography.
The last week or so has been a busy period for the Whitsundays. Airlie Beach Race Week, Whitsunday Reef Festival and Hamilton Island Race Week and we have been blessed by some superb weather through it all. The yacht racing fleet has had to contend with light variable winds but when the days are this good who could complain?!
These images show some of what’s been happening.
All taken with the 70-200.
I am still in Europe and internet access is not to great believe it or not! Heading home soon so I will be posting images once I have got them onto my desktop.
Looks like everybody has been busy while I have been away, I have seen some great posts!
See you all soon!
Having a little look through my archives today and found this image from a sailing trip to Port Douglas a couple of years ago. We were anchored at Fitzroy Is near Cairns ,when a large rainsquall came in off the sea and settled over Cape Grafton for a little while. I pulled out the camera in the hope of getting some interesting light which didn’t eventuate (as usual!)
I took a couple of images when the cloud texture looked interesting and they have been sitting on my hard drive ever since. Decided to have a little play in Lightroom & Photoshop to see if I could make this one look halfway decent and this is what came out the other end. Considering how flat and uninteresting it looked when I started, I am quite happy with the result!
Another image from Coles Bay, this time it is of The Hazards. Even though the light is not the best, I like the contrast between the bright, lichen covered granite in the foreground and the stormy sky.
Guess I will just have to go back one day and wait for the good light!
This is an image from Coles Bay which is the gateway to Freycinet National Park. It is a very different place from my last visit around 25yrs ago! Back then, it was a sleepy little place with minimal accomodation options and the nearest Nat. Parks office was an hour up the road at Bicheno. Now it is a tourist mecca during the summer months and there are people all over the place!
After seeing some beautiful images of The Hazards reflecting the evening sunlight I was hoping to get some nice images but the weather beat me again as frontal cloud moved in from the west and killed any chance if good light. As they say, if the eggs are broken, you may as well make an omelette, so I got some nice images taking advantage of the pretty cool cloud layer that moved in!
There will be a couple more from this area coming soon!
When this image first appeared on my computer screen I was a little disappointed in it, slight movement of the pontoon during a 3s exposure had very slightly ruined it. But, that’s what you get for doing a long exposure on a platform that floats!
I decided to see what I could do with it anyway because the composition looked good and that dinghy in the foreground looked interesting.
Not the best image I have ever shot but I have to admit it’s growing on me! What do you think?
Most afternoons on Orpheus Is.huge rainsqualls would pass between the island and the mainland and often there were some quite cool cloud formations with them.
I shot this image more because of the rain in the distance and when I first looked at it on screen it didn’t really excite me that much. While I was playing around with it, I began to see potential and I finally arrived at what you see here.
As I was looking at this image,phrases began to run through my head like ‘climate change’, ‘sea-level rise’ and ‘extreme weather’!
If Glaciers and Ice-caps continue to melt at the current rate, this could be a depressingly familiar sight to many island nations and coastal communities world-wide, as the sea slowly & insidiously creeps over their land.Unfortunately, now, the option of walking inland to the next higher caves doesn’t exist!
The evidence is there and the scientific community, who study these things continuously are pretty much in agreement that human activity is accelerating the changes faster than would normally happen.
Yet,,Governments and big Multi-Nationals continue to argue,dither and generally do sweet F.A.!!
A couple of worrying signs are that Conservative governments which have just recently been put into power in Victoria & Qld are dismantling and winding back climate change initiatives that were put in place by previous governments because “they cost too much”!
In the meantime it’s full steam ahead for the coal industry, they can’t dig it up and sell it overseas fast enough! Burning huge amounts of coal & other fossil fuels is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, isn’t it??
There is something definately wrong with this picture!
First up, apologies to all for not participating in the blogosphere as much of late. My new job is to blame, early starts,long days & plenty of ’em! Not quite what I was envisioning but that is the marine tourism industry sometimes. GFC, what GFC? you would not know it existed here at the moment, a large improvement on previous months!
Needless to say, I have been as busy as a one- armed paperhanger and have not had much time for photography related activities.
This image is testament to an old adage of repeatedly visiting a place until you get the shot. Every time I come to Tasmania I visit this spot at least once a day usually at sunrise or sunset, because you just never know what may transpire. Even so, I have been caught out a couple of times after packing the gear away after a fruitless wait only to see the conditions come together within minutes!
This particular morning everything came together nicely for about an hour and I came away with a good selection of images. Enjoy!
Just a short note to let you all know that I am in Tassie for a couple of weeks visiting family. getting some nice images as well!
Well, I have finally escaped the clutches of the dredge “Big Boss” stationed in Gladstone Harbour as part of the LNG plant being built on Curtis Is.
it has been a looong 6 weeks of 12hr night shifts and while my bank acc. is much healthier, I can’t say that it is a pleasant way to spend your life!
I have upgraded my camera to a Canon 60D so hopefully I will be putting a few posts up soon if i can remember how to take a decent shot and process it!!
I did manage to take a few photos with my iPhone 4 which is alright in a pinch but there is nothing quite like putting your eye to the viewfinder, is there?
See you all soon!
I have posted this image before but at the moment it holds particular significance to me!
Most of you are probably aware that I had a melanoma removed from my heel recently. A biopsy of the lymph glands in my groin, taken at the same time showed traces of melanoma which is not a particularly good sign!
Surgeons have decided that they need to remove those lymph glands which are a fairly important part of your immune system. That brings up its own set of problems such as lymphedema and thay can’t guarantee that the melanoma won’t turn up later on.
After some denial and a bit of reading I have decided to investigate more natural therapies to deal with the problem in the hope that i can avoid the surgeons knife.
While there are undoubtedly natural ways to deal with this, sorting out the wheat from the chaff is going to take some doing and I need to find an answer or make a decision quickly!! Potentialy turning your back on accepted practice is not for the faint-hearted and my knowledge can be written on the back of a postage stamp.
So, I am going to enlist the aid of fellow bloggers who may have some experience or knowledge or even an opinion on this.
What do you say? my photographic future could depend on it!
BTW, to those who want to sell me snake oil my spam radar will be well tuned!
Hooray, after all this time i have achieved the marvelous milestone of 4000 hits!
I would just like to thank all my fans and people who have supported me, my parents, my agent, um, my……………….
What am I talking about, it’s only 4000!
But seriously, thanks to those people who call in and like what they see AND leave a comment!
Over the last month with all the rainy and cloudy weather, I have driven hours and many miles to try and get images of the low clouds hanging around the local mountains and hills.
Little success has come my way in spite of all the effort, no texture in the cloud,too much cloud, heavy rain, not enough cloud, wrong light has been my lot!
Over the last few days I have been sitting in a hospital bed in Townsville with a great view of Mt Stuart. the clouds have been great, the light in the early morning & late afternoon has been awesome, great images!
Too bad I don’t have a camera with me!
Just a short post to let all my fans??? know that I am presently back in hospital after getting a melanoma cut out of my foot!
If anybody finds a Chinaman laying by the side of the road cursing me, let me know where, so I can come and do the job properly!!
May not improve my luck at the moment, but it will make me feel better!
Being released from hospital today! Looks like some time before I am out and about with the camera but I will be finding plenty on file to bore you all silly with!
Having been made to attend Sunday School in a very uninspiring little country church when I was young, I came to the conclusion that religion was not something that was going to have a big influence on my life. The other conclusion I came to was that, if you were that way inclined, there were far better places to worship than a church, like out amongst nature itself!
To this day I still hold to these tenants, however I am always intrigued & inspired by some of the magnificent cathedrals,mosques and locations that they are situated.
In Greece the monastaries were always found in some of the most remote,wild and scenic places on the islands. How they got the materials to those places would surely test ones faith!
Walking around Salisbury cathedral in England was awe-inspiring. The scale, history and craftmanship of places like that will never be seen again. In Barcelona, La Sagrida Famiglia is mind boggling along with most of Gaudi’s other projects!
In Istanbul, the Blue Mosque is an architectural wonder. The people who built these places perservered sometimes for centuries because of their faith which must have been strong. Ken Follett’s book “Pillars of the Earth” is a great read that describes the building of one of the big English Cathedrals.
While we don’t have cathedrals of the same scale here in Australia we do have some beautiful churches that were built by master craftsmen
This church is in a little town called Westbury in Tasmania which still has quite a few old buildings from the convict days.
But I was reminded the other day that you don’t need a big ornate building to inspire your faith, sometimes all you need is a quiet place with a nice view and some basic materials.
This little outdoor chapel is surrounded by Hoop Pine and coconut palms, sits right on the water facing the sunset on Mandalay Point just across the bay from Airlie Beach.
Kinda cool huh?
Well, the Whitsundays scored a direct hit by TC Ului on Saturday night and it was a wild night indeed! Ului crossed the coast at about 1:30am as a Cat 3 system with gusts of about 200km/h.
Power had gone about 11:30 and from then on it was a dark and stormy night literally! As the eye passed over the wind dropped to about 15 knots and light drizzle before it all resumed from the opposite direction but nowhere near the previous intensity. By daylight it was pretty much all over.
As sleep was nearly impossible we decided to hold an impromptu party to celebrate the rare experience of passing through the eye of a cyclone.
As a tree had fallen across our driveway I couldn’t get out and about to inspect things until late afternoon and everyone else had the same idea.
There was surprisingly little structural damage to buildings but the trees in some places looked like they had been torn apart by something extremely violent.
Hearing some of the gusts the previous night I was not surprised but I was still shaking my head just looking at it.
On the marine side of things there was carnage at Shute Hbr which is open to the south with many vessels dragging their moorings into the mangroves or onto the beach.
As a lot of the vessels went ashore at the peak of the tide and storm surge, it will be problematical to refloat the larger ones and large cranes will need to be utilised.
Once the eye passed over and the wind switched direction any boats left in the bay were exposed to open sea and about half a dozen ended up on the bricks. As most of the shoreline around Airlie Beach is now sea wall these boats did not fare so well.
What you can’t see in this photo is that there is a smaller boat crushed between the large yacht and the rocks!
Power was out for about 40 hrs and is still out in some areas but things are slowly returning to some sort of normalcy. It is interesting how your life changes when you don’t have some of the things that you take for granted, like light,TV, internet and how quiet it gets! Similar to camping really.
The local council, SES and energy companies have worked their rings off to restore normal services as quickly as possible and deserve the fullest praise for their efforts!
I for one am glad it wasn’t a Cat 5!
Heading down to Tassie for a couple of weeks to see family etc, oh and get some images!
See you when I return, have fun y’all!
All the best for the festive season to you all out there! Thanks for stopping by on occasion and here’s to a great 2010!
See you all next year.