Last night I received the sad news that an old friend had passed away. I have previously posted about the Ellis Brothers here. Alec Ellis passed away earlier this year and Mort suddenly died a couple of days ago at the ripe old age of 98!
Like their brother Ossie, they were still active at the time of their passing so thankfully they all died ‘with their boots on’, Mort had been down to the nearest town, Sheffield, to get some groceries earlier in the week and looked fine according to a friend.
Thankfully, I had called in to see him back in August when I was last in Tasmania and he was still in fine form, living simply in his shack at Cradle Mountain, expounding passionately on the evils of man’s greed and it’s effect on the natural world, still tinkering with his perpetual motion machine.
Axeman, trapper, cheesemaker, fisherman, miner, sawmiller, ferry-captain, these were just some of the occupations that Mort found himself in during a knock-about life that had it’s fair share of hard times. Tough men during tough times, but for all that, Mort,Alec & Ossie were incredibly generous, with a twinkle in their eye and a humour that was uniquely Tasmanian.
When I last saw him, Mort was a little bemused to find himself on the cover of a book, “Through Their Eyes- Glimpses of a Changing Australia” by Lucy Taylor, Published by Brigalow Press in which the author had travelled Australia recording the stories of people such as Mort. Well worth reading to hear the perspective of a generation that has seen more change than any other!
This time I didn’t make any photographs of Mort, in the past he has been very patient & generous with me and I was able to capture some nice shots of him and I have some great memories of a good friend to me & my late father.
Although he was not particularly sentimental and he always maintained that there was no ‘afterlife’ as many people would like to believe, I hope that if there is, he catches up with my father and his two brothers over a cold Boag’s or two and have some of those spirited debates that they were all so fond of having!
A nice peaceful image from one of my favourite short walks in the Cradle Mt area. The Dove Canyon track starts from near Cradle Mt Lodge and follows Pencil Pine Ck through beautiful Myrle Forest for the first kilometre or so before heading along the top of the Dove Canyon.
The full walk is quite a hike in places but takes you through some magnificent highland country but everytime I am in the area I always go for a short walk along this track because it is such a peaceful place and I am hoping to one day catch a glimpse of a faerie because I am sure they inhabit the area, or maybe a troll!
This will be my last post for a little while as I am off to visit Europe and hopefully Scotland for a month and hopefully return with some good images!
See you all soon!
First of all, it appears this blog has picked up a small following, which kind of surprises me as I don’t consider my images to be anything really special. There are far better images out there than mine! But to those people who follow my blog and those who stumble across it and leave a ‘Like’ thanks very much! I will endeavour to keep it as interesting as I possibly can. Please feel free to leave a comment about the images I post,good, bad or whatever!
It occurred to me that most images of Cradle Mt. are shot with wide-angle lenses which show a lot of foreground which is hopefully interesting but also push the mountain into the background. Luckily, with that distinctive shape, it will still get the attention it deserves. As I was driving up to Lake Dove one day I noticed that at one spot the mountain seems to loom over the surrounding buttongrass plains with little else to compete with it. On the way back I decided to investigate that view a little more closely and this is the result.
It is a slightly different perspective of the mountain helped by the use of a 105mm focal length.
‘Confession’- I have replaced a rather dull, featureless blue sky with something a little more interesting! Canon 5DII, 105mm, 1/5s @f16, iso 100, polariser
On my last night in Cradle Mt, I thought I would have a little go at lightpainting. This is Alec Ellis’s hut and as a bonus a visiting pademelon stayed long enough to be included in the shot!
This is a combination of 4 different images stacked as layers in Photoshop and all blended with with the Lighten blend mode. Exposure for each image was 30s @ f8, iso200.
This image is from earlier in the morning and was a brief show of colour around Cradle Mt. Back over my left shoulder the sky was aflame but I wanted that distinctive shape, so I had to hope that the slowly moving cloud in the mountain’s direction would ‘light up’!
A little tip for those of you contemplating a trip to Tassie for photography, at the height of summer the sun rises at about 5:30am and sets about 9:00pm. Add to that about an hour of twighlight at each end of the day and your photographic day is pretty long! Especially if you are travelling around as well.
Somewhere in that 24hrs you need to eat, download images, scout around, and do th0se other things that life demands AND get a good night’s sleep! Not to mention the amount of people that visit iconic sights like Cradle Mt & Freycinet Peninsula. Next time I go down it will be in March-April or August- Sept when the days are a bit shorter and Autumn colour or Spring flowers are showing.
Anyway, hope you like it! Canon 5D Mk II, 24mm TS-E Lens, 2 stop ND Grad Filter
If you have been following this blog you probably know that Cradle Mt. and I have a complicated history,photographically speaking! The weather Gods just seem to give me the thumbs down whenever I go there. During my little sojourn around Tasmania in a campervan recently I spent 3 days there with Mort Ellis to make sure I gave myself a fighting chance of getting some good images of the mountain.
This particular morning I got up there early and had the place to myself for a while before the holiday crowds started swarming and came away with some nice images of which this is one.
Funnily enough, the weather was actually a little too nice with minimal cloud around the mountain during the morning twilight but I managed to get a couple of nice ones which I will post soon. What made this morning pretty special though for me was the absolute stillness of the water which made for some great reflections.
Hope you like it! Canon 5D Mk II, 24mm TS-E Lens
With the recent passing of my uncle,I was going through some old photos last night and also watched a video shot by a family friend. The video was of my father recounting his memories about the early days of Cradle Mountain following the death of Gustav Weindorfer.
He mentioned that Waldheim Chalet and surrounding land was eventually purchased by the Connell family and run as a guesthouse for a period and it was this family who put in many of the tracks in the area that are still in use today. In those days it would have been hard physical labour indeed as it was all done by hand including the cutting of the timber “cordoruy” used in lowlying areas to make walking easier.
I have posted before about the Ellis brothers who originally built what is now known as Cradle Mountain Lodge back in the ’70s. Ossie Ellis, over the years surveyed,marked and cut many of the day walking tracks around the lodge that I have been fortunate enough to walk over the years. One of my favourites is the Canyon track which can be quite challenging in places!
On one of my recent visits to the area I went for a walk along the track to some hidden falls and was delighted to see that some of the original cordorouy & original marker posts that Ossie put in were still there albeit in sad disrepair in places.
Even though helicopters were used to drop materials closer to the more remote parts of the track, the labour involved in putting it all in would have been huge as all the boards were split by hand, tied together by wire and nailed where needed. Not to mention the digging of drains and levelling where needed! Ossie was in his ’60s at the time.
Eventually the miles of cordorouy that Ossie and some friends put in will rot away or be replaced by timber walkways which will conform to safety standards and constructed by teams of builders & volounteers
This image is my homage to a breed of men & their skills that are slowly disappearing into the mist of time.
This one is from an old mining settlement near Cradle Mt. by the name of Moina. Not much exists of the old township but in it’s heyday it was quite a large settlement.
These days it is a quiet rural area with a couple of classic old corrugated iron shacks and this neat little shed next to a quaint little pond.
Mostly boring blue sky so I thought I would turn it into a monochrome and quite like the result!
While I was staying with the Ellis Brothers, I thought I would take the opportunity to visit one of my favourite places. Many people walk past these falls without knowing it as the track is not marked and is fairly overgrown in places.
First time I had been here in about 10 years and I had always wanted to get some newer images of the place.Situated on the Pencil Pine Ck which is the Northern boundary of the National Park, it is a special little spot that has always filled me with a sense of what wilderness is all about!
Apologies for the long absence from the blogosphere although I have been checking you all out occasionally!
The reason for my absence is that my father of 92 years of age passed away about a month ago down in Tasmania. Luckily, I did get to see him before he went although he was not concious at the time.
It was while we were putting together some photos for his service that I realised that I didn’t have any images of him that I had taken and there were only a couple of images of us together that thankfully another family member had taken. There was also a long period of his life where there were very few photos of him at all which effectively meant that most photos were happy snaps taken in his early years or his later years!
After his service, I thought about this and came to the conclusion that peoples memories of him were his best legacy and it also made me realise that although I have been a photographer on & off for many years, I had always put people in the ‘too hard basket’ for various reasons.
So, I have resolved to try and become a better people photographer because most of us are guilty of taking our family & friends for granted and they won’t be there forever!
A couple of good friends of my father’s invited me to stay with them up at Cradle Mt. while I was there, so just to put things in perspective, I took them up on their offer. The Ellis brothers who I have posted about previously, are men from a different age. Tough as nails and with a body of knowledge in their heads that is slowly disappearing as one by one they pass on. While I was there, I had an opportunity to capture them in their environment and hopefully try to bring out there personalities on “film”.
Mort & Alec live in a couple of spartan cabins right on the edge of the Cradle Mt Nat. Park. Along with their late brother Ossie they had extensive land holdings in the area which they have subsequently sold for tourism development. Surrounded by tourism accomodation, most visitors to the area don’t even know they exist.
Mort is the oldest brother, 95 yrs young and still keeps himself occupied with making his own cheese and ínventing’ perpetual motion machines! He has a great singing voice and is convinced that all the woes of the world are caused by man’s greed for money. To listen to he & my father passionately debate this issue was an education in itself!
In spite of his advanced years he is still as sharp as a tack with a healthy sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye. Still drives his car down to the nearest town, which is an hour drive for most people, along steep winding roads at a very healthy pace!
Alec, his younger brother lives semi-permanently in a cabin separated from Mort’s by a large machinery shed. Alec is the ‘entrepeneur’ of the family, he , along with Ossie saw the opportunities in the Cradle Mt. region many years ago and together they built the first commercial accomodation, built in the area, Pencil Pine Lodge.
At heart, Alec is most happy when he is at the controls of an earth-moving machine of some sort and is always tinkering with something along those lines. His cabin is a single room shack that was an old Hydro shack he saw on the back of a semi-trailer one day and later bought for around $100.
One of the worlds great talkers, (heaven help you if he calls you on the phone!) he knows everyone, has a great fund of stories and is always seeing new opportunities and has a heart of gold as well!
One day these two great old men will be gone, I am proud to have met them through my father and the world will be less for their passing. In the meantime, I hope I have captured them in a way that shows the essence of these two ‘old timers’!
Only made it up to Cradle Mt. once this time around. True to form, the weather was cold,blustery and RAINING which is the norm rather than the exception in this part of the world. I sat in the car for a while cursing my luck and eventually a break in the rain came through so hopefully I set off to a couple of spots that I wanted to check out.
Of course, 100 meters away from the car and a light rain started. I pulled out the camera gear a couple of times in the hope of getting a shot that wouldn’t have water spots on the lens and this was the only useable image.
I call this an environmental portrait of Cradle Mt. with the mountain taking a backseat to it’s surrounding environment of buttongrass plains which cover a large part of the surrounding area.
Anyway, hope you all like it!
Of all the forests and bushlands I have wandered through over the years, I think the type of forest that gives me the greatest pleasure would be the Myrtle Beech forests of Tasmania.
To me, they are places of magic and mystery. Cool damp forests mostly found along alpine streams, the only sounds you hear are the burbling of the stream or the occasional thump as a wallaby scoots off into the brush.
The colour palette here is a lush emerald green as nearly everything is covered in a variety of mosses and lichens. Looking about, I nearly expect to see elves and faeries to be perched on a log looking at me quizzically.
Photographically, they are a delight, you could spend all day in one of these places and travel no more than 100 metres. Sunbeams,mist and the sheer variety of colour, texture and shape will engage your senses for hours!
Shot near Pencil Pine Creek on the edge of the Cradle Mt- Lake St. Clair Nat. Park.
While I am on the subject of Cradle Mt, I would like you all to meet one of my father’s closest mates. Mort Ellis, 94yrs young!
Mort and his brothers Ossie and Alec were the builders and owners of Pencil Pine Lodge which is now known as the world famous Cradle Mt. Lodge. Pencil Pine Lodge was the first “commercial” accommodation built in the area back in the early 70’s and I remember spending some great times there over the years! And a few that I am a bit hazy about as well.
Ossie was a bit of a legend in bushwalking circles before his untimely death. He built all the tracks and bridges around Cradle Mt Lodge that enable guests to go for walks in the different environments surrounding the lodge. A total opposite to my father in political persuasion,they were the best of mates and shared many adventures in some of the wildest areas of the Tasmanian wilderness. To listen to them having a passionate political debate over a few beers was highly entertaining and sometimes alarming as they always used to to stir each other up for the fun of it!
While Mort was not into bushwalking so much, most of his working life was spent in the bush on the rugged west coast of Tasmania. An area that is not known for it’s metro-sexuals and new-age men!!
There are not many people like Mort left nowadays and with each passing year, a wealth of knowledge slowly dwindles away. To listen to people like Mort, Ossie and my father with their knowledge of their environment and the old-fashioned bushcraft they used was fascinating!
On another note, this image was processed mostly in Lightroom using a technique that involves ramping up the Fill, Blacks and Clarity sliders to max, back off on the Blacks to suit your taste, desaturate to taste and put a vignette around it.
Not a great technique for aspiring model but for someone with a lived in face like Mort it works a treat!
Andrew Brown & Jamie Patterson have been posting some great images of the Tasmanian Icon that is Cradle Mt, so I thought I would add my paltry efforts!
These have been lurking in my archive for ages and frankly they’re rather boring images compared to others that are out there.
These two images above were shot in my early days of digital photography, so please excuse the quality. A rare beautiful day up in these parts!
These last two illustrate the extremes of weather up in the Alpine regions. It can go from a beautiful warm sunny day to freezing cold and nasty in very short time! Many people have been caught out over the years, some with fatal consequences.
My father who lived at Cradle Mt for many years and knew the area intimately treated the area with great respect even if he was going for a short daywalk.
Many times i have driven up to the lake hoping for that moody, broken cloud pierced by the setting sun type of weather. So far it has eluded me but I will get lucky one day!
These are some images of ‘Waldheim’ which was the home of Gustav Weindorfer, acknowledged as the spiritual father of the Cradle Mountain-Lake St.Clair National Park.
‘Waldheim’ was built in 1912 from local timber that was all manually split for shingles and used for furniture etc.
Considering there were no roads into this area then, it is usually cloudy and drizzly and it can snow in the middle of summer, you’ve got to hand it to the people who made the area their home. Tough buggers!
But when you look at the surroundings you can’t help but think what an awesome place to live!
It’s a far cry from modern times where the area is a tourist mecca and is very carefully managed by the Tasmanian National Parks and Wildlife Service to ensure that the thousands of people who visit each year don’t completely wreck the area.
I was here early one morning, weather was crap for getting any decent images of Cradle Mt. Luckily it was too early for the tour buses so I had the place to myself for an hour, a rare experience!
If you are heading to Cradle Mountain, chances are you will pass through an area called the Middlesex Plains.
This is one of my favourite drives, great road and the scenery has a haunting beauty to it that is unique. Skeletons of trees killed long ago by extreme weather and fire, among other causes, stretch their ghostly limbs to the sky.
The human history of this area is littered with tales of hardship,loneliness, folly and bravery although there is little evidence of it these days.
I have tried to capture what this place feels like on a few occasions but so far it has eluded me, Its a place that needs time to get to know. These are a couple of attempts that hopefully gives an idea.