With our authorial and bushwalking colleague Peter Hatherly, Windy Cliff Press has produced a new book that fills a huge gap in publications on the Blue Mountains.
The Blue Mountains: exploring landscapes shaped by the underlying rocks, uplift and erosion is a guide to the amazing landscapes of the Blue Mountains and the ongoing story of their formation. Peter, a geophysicist, has closely studied the uplifts that have helped form the mountains, and published ‘groundbreaking’ work that resolves some past uncertainties.
Across 204 pages and with numerous photos, maps and diagrams, we explain just about everything that happens ‘beneath the scenery’. A major part of the book is a ‘guided tour’ of the regions of the mountains, elucidating what you see from the lookouts, walking tracks and beyond. The book is a must for any walker, tourist, resident or visitor who wants to know more about this magnificent region.
You can buy the book here from about the end of May, or from all good bookshops in the Blue Mountains and some shops in Sydney.
Late in 2021 the NSW Government announced that a new 30,000 hectare Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area would be created over over the Newnes, Ben Bullen and Wolgan state forests near Lithgow. This is something environment groups have been campaigning on for decades and will bring stronger protection to this remarkable landscape. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service are now busy planning for new visitor facilities, restoration of damaged areas and conservation of natural values, including the spectacular ‘pagoda’ rock formations, rare swamps and many threatened species.
Already-approved underground coal mining will continue, but the surface will finally receive the level of management it deserves. The new reserve even comes with $50 million for establishment, partly to generate tourism and benefits for the Lithgow economy through visits to the new reserve.
As part of recovery from the Black Summer bushfires in the Blue Mountains, the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute secured a grant for an Eco-arts project that would combine citizen science with artistic responses to the dramatic changes in our local bushland. Recovery: the exhibition is an online show with a wonderful diversity of contributions from many local artists.
My own offering is in two photographic collections. In Blue Gum: Cradle of Conservation I joined forces with local ecologist and photographer Wyn Jones to compile a photographic history of a special place that really copped the epic landscape events of 2019-2020: drought, fires, floods and growth. The iconic Blue Gum Forest has a unique place in the hearts of many bushwalkers and nature lovers, and the collection spans nearly 150 years of how photographers have seen the forest. My solo exhibit, Transfiguration, explores how fire and flood have both changed and revealed the environment of the Blue Mountains, visually, physically and ecologically. If you visit these exhibits, please also read the text that goes with them.
Speaking of 2022 calendars…our calendar stock sold out early this time, well before Christmas 2021. This was a surprise. If anyone missed out, please come back to our Publications page early this year to secure your 2023 copies. It should be available around the end of September.
A late post that one of my photos appears in The Wilderness Society’s 2022 Landscape Calendar. The image depicts a sandstone pagoda landscape on the edge of Newnes Plateau (Blue Mountains), which is still unprotected State Forest but proposed to be part of a Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area.
I like wild and bleak landscapes. Tasmania’s Central Plateau is one of the largest extents of alpine country in Australia, with huge areas over 1200 metres elevation and many peaks over 1400 metres. Its the roof of the island. Although remote and windswept, the plateau is far from barren. Lake-studded expanses and rocky pavements are densely embroidered in the most exquisite montane gardens, featuring Pencil Pines, Snow Gums, cushion plants, fern bogs and (very prickly) scoparia shrubs . I have long wanted to cross the whole plateau, and in October 2019 we walked for 12 days from north to south, from the Great Western Tiers near Deloraine, through the Walls of Jerusalem to the Lyell Highway near Lake St Clair. Most of our walk was through World Heritage listed reserves, and justly so.
Late in 2018 The Wilderness Society released a book that was ‘forty years in the making‘, Wilderness: Celebrating Australia’s Protected Places. To quote TWS: “This magnificent book showcases landscapes protected over 40 years of Wilderness Society campaigns. This includes Kakadu, Daintree, the Kimberley and, of course, Tasmania’s mighty Franklin River. Its pages tell the inspiring story of how people power can rescue the future.” Hallelujah to that. Its 180 pages, 30 cm x 30 cm and you can even buy a Special Edition with a ‘clam shell box’!
The book includes six of my images, and can be purchased here to help celebrate past wins and to support ongoing TWS campaigns for nature.
I was both surprised and pleased to be selected by art consultants to create a large-scale photographic mural for the new Community Dialysis Unit at Katoomba Hospital. The brief called for a “memorable, restful and welcoming” artwork stretching the full length of the facility – a wall 23.5 metres long. With windows and other interruptions, this was a challenging task, on a tight timeframe. So I enlisted my colleagues and friends Ian Charles and Marianne Walsh of Nature Tourism Services to apply their aesthetic, design and photo-editing skills.
Part of the mural “Flourish”, showing windows
We came up with a composite of several misty forest scenes from the higher Blue Mountains, with some inserted flora and fauna. The clients liked it and the printer completed a tricky install just in time for the opening in July. We hope the mural improves the experience of dialysis patients, who visit the unit up to three times a week for up to fours hours at a time. The unit is divided into three treatment ‘rooms’ and we designed the mural to provide some variety by being different but congruent across the rooms.
Plenty of research has shown the benefits of nature and art for health, wellbeing and recovery, and I was delighted to be able to use my photography for such a worthwhile purpose.
As much as I love the edge of the land, with all the drama, power and mystery of the sea, I haven’t spent much time on the coast for a while. So it was great to re-acquaint myself on two recent visits. In the depths of winter (a wonderful time to be on the coast), four of us walked for 12 days along the edge of Victoria’s Croajingolong National Park, into New South Wales and Nadgee Nature Reserve. We didn’t rush, so there was plenty of time at the two ends of the day for immersion and photography in a rich landscape. A selection of ‘wilderness coast’ images can be seen in this gallery.
Then in August our family spent a week on the South Coast of New South Wales, in the Bawley Point-Kioloa area, wedged between two beautiful national parks – Meroo and Murramarang. Every morning before dawn, and some evenings, I’d sneak out to prowl some new section of coast with my camera. Thanks to so many conservationists and forward-looking governments, NSW is lucky to have extensive sections of coast that have not been marred with headland mansions and other blights. Some South Coast images can be seen in this gallery.