Dusky Austinmer Beach

The Beach at Austinmer New South Wales is popular with summer holiday makers but on dusky winters evenings, it can take on a less welcoming character.

The steps down to the saltwater pool look like steps to nowhere.

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Some people are keen.
 
 
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From the northern most end of the beach I can look back at the pool and change sheds, not tempted to get wet myself this evening.
 
 
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The trees take on a spooky character in the dusk.
 
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On the way home the fish and chip shop beckons, a splash of colour and warm light.
 
 
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Some images from the Austinmer holiday have been selected for greeting cards available in the ImageChest Etsy Store.
 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

This post is on the WordPress Daily Challenge theme for this week which is Culture. The instruction was to show an image that would generate curiosity about a culture and a desire to learn more.

I was taking photos at Niagara Falls, USA when a large group arrived, apparently on group outing. I was curious as to who they were but was too shy to ask.

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The image was taken at the edge of the Horseshoe Falls from the USA side of Niagara Falls. The buildings in the background are in Niagara Falls, Canada.

Austimer Escape

In the winter of 2010 I spent a week in Austinmer on the Illawarra Coast. It was my first holiday in over a year. Since contracting pneumonia in early 2009 I had been struggling to recover my health from post-pneumonia fatigue. I faced the 1 hour train journey south from home in Sydney with trepidation. This small beachside town in the Illawarra Region, nestled between the Illawarra Escarpment and the Pacific Ocean, seemed a world away. I arrived by train at the bustling unmanned railway station.

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I found safe haven at the cosy and comfortable Sur La Mer Bed and Breakfast. It had everything I needed and I could have quite comfortably lived there on a permanent basis.

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To the north of the railway line, a winding road climbs up into the foothills of the mountains. I walked up here to a lovely art gallery and artists studio.

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Its not a big place, but there are some lovely cafes and specialty shops to explore, such as Mala Beads.

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I decided to extend my stay, but needed to change accommodation. The Austinmer Beach Cottages gave me an excellent view of the escarpment. Where Sur La Mer had been safe and cosy, this place was open and expansive. This transition seemed to reflect my growing confidence that I was well enough to be back in the world.

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The escarpment looms high over the town so that when the sun moves westward in the middle of the afternoon, the whole town is in shadow. I looked longingly to where the sun was still shining on the other of the mountains.

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Its Austinmer Beach that draws people to the town. The slow paced life on a thin strip of coast between two big cities, Sydney and Wollongong.

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But its the rock platforms that have always drawn my attention.

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Something happened in Austinmer. I made the switch from seeing myself as a convalescent, to believing I was well enough to get on with my life. I did a lot of walking, writing and photography. Within a few months I was exploring England.

I have selected some images from the Austinmer holiday to be the subject of greeting cards available in the ImageChest Etsy Store.

Stormy Stanwell Park Australia

It seems like its time to come back home and take a look at some pictures of Australia. Today I am going to share some images of a small town called Stanwell Park, just south of Sydney. Stanwell Park has a lovely sandy beach, most famous as the landing place for hand-gliders which take the leap from Stanwell Tops.

On my way down to the beach, I encountered this fellow, a Sulpur Crested Cockatoo, who exhibited no shyness in front of the camera. One of these birds had a character role in the film Rio, as the main villain. I think this characterisation was a little harsh, cockatoos are not normally inclined to criminal activity, unless you have a laden fruit tree.

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As you approach the beach you find a river attempting to make its way into the sea. Sometimes it doesn’t quite get there, and forms a shallow lagoon. A good rain will sort this one out.

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You can see the cliffs which are so popular for hang-gliding. Since this was a wintery weekday, there was only a lone glider high in the sky. I met this man later in the beachside cafe. It was strange to see a dot circling in the sky gradually materialise as a real person.

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As I walked out onto the beach, the threatening sky began to assert its presence in the north east.

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While to the south it was still blue skies and fair weather. You can see the new elevated road curving out over the cliff edge.The old road had collapsed down the side of the cliff, cutting off Stanwell Park from the towns to the south until a new road could be constructed.

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Looking out to sea, a helicopter and a tanker.

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Tucked between the busy cities of Sydney and Wollongong, the beach towns of the Illawarra Coast have to reconcile tourism with industry.

Another Paris

I have been looking at a lot of photos of my trip to Paris lately. I have been making and selling greeting cards of Paris, and I have them on my screen saver. These are  images of the beautiful romantic Paris of our imaginations. But Paris is a real city; a modern city. There is another Paris.

Near the Parmentier district where I stayed, there were modern appartments, and signs of construction work.

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The garden at Port de l’Arsenal is very pretty.

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On the way there from the Bastille intersection, I walked past the makeshift accommodation homeless people.

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From the bridge at Quai de la Rapee in the east of the city, you can see some of the icons of Paris in the distance. But you can also see that the Seine is a working river, transporting industrial cargo.

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Turn to look in the other direction, and you see another side of the city, industrial Paris.

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The monochrome yellow stone of historic Paris is charming, but the French have found a way to inject colour into the city. Some people thought these hoardings were ugly, but I found the colourful modern imagery a relief. Old and new side by side.
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Its tempting only to look towards the beautiful and expected, but sometimes the interesting image is in another direction.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

Todays theme for The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge is Up.

I have stood at the foot of quite a few tall towers, and mostly, thats where I stay. So when I heard the word Up my thoughts went to the one tower that I did go up, the CN Tower in Toronto Canada. Its very up. Way up.

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After 20 minutes happily experiencing being Up in the donut shaped viewing tower, a new word began to press upon my consciousness with  increasing urgency. DOWN.

See more images of the CN Tower here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

Travelling is a time when I am very conscious of change, especially that rootless space between checking out of one hotel, and checking into another. This weeks photo challenge reminded me of a journey from Lake Placid in New York State, to Montreal Canada.

The journey began when I checked out of my hotel room, and waited in the lobby for my transport to the railway station. One last chance to enjoy the Mirror Lake out the windows of the foyer.

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A mini bus drove me to the railway station at Westport.There were three of us, the driver, a passenger for New York, and me bound for Montreal.

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The three of us waited for the southbound train to come through. The other passenger got on board, and the mini-bus driver picked up his next passengers, bound for Lake Placid.

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Then there was one, waiting in Westport for the north bound train.

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Once on the train, it was lakeside views for most of the journey north to the border.

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Welcome to Canada!. The train stops here for a quick customs inspection in the middle of a field.

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My first introduction to the condos of Canada.

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As night falls, we enter Montreal.

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So this is what Montreal looks like?

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I never did find out why the keep the lights turned out at the Montreal railway terminal. They advised us to pack up our things before the train reached the platform, because it would be too dark to see when the lights went out in the carriage. It was weird and creepy.

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Relief. Safely arrived at another hotel room.

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