A collection of images taken on a short adventure through Tasmania. A new little project inspired by film and the works of photographer Kevin Russ.
It’s been a while since I actually took the time to properly compose a blog post, so apologies if it doesn’t flow as well as it should. So here goes, a post I’m currently writing in our new local little café.
It’s January and we’re newly back in Queensland. We decided to leave Sydney and make a new life back in the state we’ve always called home. Everything felt right. We left our full time jobs in the busy city. We left our tiny home. We left that chapter. Before we knew it, our lives were in bags and boxes and on the road. A few days later, we were home. Almost.
Creativity began to re-enter our lives. Raph was writing, I was photographing and catching up on months of editing. The creativity that was lost in our city lives was found, again. Our first home was Brisbane; briefly living at Raph’s grans. There we realised how wound up we had become, from living in Sydney. The fast pace, the excitement, the stress.
We then moved a little more north, to Raph’s mums home. Her home is in the country-side, on a rolling hill with fruit trees, veggies and herbs that make any salad the best salad you’ve ever tasted. We lived there a little longer than we anticipated, but it felt like home. Whenever we would spend days away in Brisbane, I always wished to return back to the farm. To feel the space and solitude.
Things began to fall into place. I had a job interview coming up at a new health food store. For years I had wanted to work at a store just like this. It felt too good.
We began to search for a home just for the two of us, but nothing seemed right. We decided before we left for Queensland that we wouldn’t share again with others, but something changed. Some friends sent a call out for a like-minded family to live with on the Sunshine Coast. They were too, about to make the move and set up a new life. Before we knew it we were getting to know each other, writing back and forth in group chats, writing dorky ‘ten things about ourselves’. They were still in Perth, and I had only met them once. It felt a bit crazy when we all decided to live with each other. But, in some way, I think we all knew it would be something wonderful. Four creatives and their little girl, living together, exploring and making memories.
They flew over, with their lives in suitcases and stayed with us at the farm. For a week, we shared stories and tales of our lives. I shared stories that I thought another would never understand, but I was wrong. We explored the area, shared our favourite places and swam at one of our favourite waterholes.
We searched and searched for the perfect home. Until this home, this perfect, perfect home became all that we wanted.
If you don't understand anxiety, close this post. If you don't understand anxiety, but you want to, I'll introduce you. If you understand, I understand.
Hi, I'm anxiety. I'm the jittery one. The one that makes you tremble and fumble your words. The one that sends you flushed when all you do is try to make a witty comment and try to seem totally chilled and funny. And then, I'm the one that tells you how silly it was for saying that witty comment. Was it funny? Did they like it? They laughed, well thats good. I think.. But, maybe it was a sympathetic laugh...I don't know...
I'm the one that tells you you're not good enough, you suck at what you do and nobody actually likes the work you create.
I'm the one that joined you when you went to the ocean that day. You watched your friend jump freely into the sea, like a mermaid; carefree without a second thought. I was there when you wanted to be carefree too, but I didn't let you. You jumped in, and I did too. I told you there were sharp rocks and oysters, and creatures below that could take your life. I made your heart beat. Faster. Faster. I clutched your lungs and throat with my poisonous grip, so breathing became harder and harder; until I decided to sit on your chest. And as you lost your strength, I placed my hands on your shoulders, so with every wave that came, you gasped for air and swallowed the sea each time. I held you back when you had to find your way up on to the rocks, to the ladder and up to the safe ground. I followed you as you made the excuse that you needed to use the bathroom. And I sat there with you in the cubicle until I slowly left you. But don't worry, I came back. Just to tell you how silly you were for not being carefree. For letting me jump in with you that day.
Thought I was gone? Hell no! I heard you were going to a social occasion where you know literally nobody! I'm SO coming with you! Let me help! I'd recommend you probably shouldn't be standing by yourself right now. You look like a loner and everyone in the room thinks that too. Let's go for a walk over to the buffet. Jitters! My friend! So nice of you to pop in and stay. Would you be so awfully kind, and help me continually drop that piece of slippery watermelon I'm trying to pick up with a pair of tongs, while there's at least four people waiting to use them too? And they're just happily watching me fail? Sure thing sister! I'll just go without that watermelon. What's that? Let's just go to the bathroom so we don't have to deal with the situation? That old gem? Okay cool, I need to go too. I'll come.
Anxiety, kindly fuck off. You don't win. Those who understand, I understand. You're not alone.
Let's fight it; together.
Throwback to the time I hung out, had a beer and photographed this local Brisbane band, 'Big Bad Echo'.
It was a cool, rainy day while we travelled out to the national park. It was an adventure that Raph had planned for us to do for the past week or so. Through the deep, darkening forest roads, the scene immersed us. We couldn't find the walking track we planned on taking, so we stopped where the forest met the ocean, rolling beneath the cliff face.
The walk began with a view of the sea; and a thick cloud of rain moving quickly toward us. Suddenly from rich Australian bush, a lush rainforest surrounded us as we neared the beach at the base of the cliff. We made our way through hillsides of wild raspberries, listening to the calls of eastern whipbirds.
It took almost an hour to reach the beach we were destined for. We arrived at the rocky shore and I felt like I was in a whole other country. Hills of bright shades of green painted the walls of the cove, like soft blankets wrapping the sea. Our first sight was an echidna nibbling on some of the biggest ants I'd seen. It was the first echidna Raph had ever seen in the wild. An old man combed the waters edge and offered to show us a nest of pythons that he'd spotted. It saddened me that my immediate thought was that the man might have had entirely different intentions and wanted to lead us to a trap. He obviously didn't, and he was just a friendly old man. It's so upsetting that the world has enforced such distrust within me.
On our way back, it began to rain lightly, cooling our warm skin from climbing the hills back to the top. As the terrain became wetter, it invited a few unwanted friends to our trek; leeches. It was my first encounter with these little suckers, and to say the least, it wasn't something I enjoyed. I spotted one crawling into my boot and I didn't remain overly calm about the situation. Ripping my boot off I discovered that one had already been in my boot drinking away on my foot. As Raph waited for my minor melt down to conclude, a few of them started attaching themselves to his legs. That was it. As soon as I got my boot back on, knowing I had leeches in my shoes and knowing they were emerging from EVERYWHERE, I sprinted the whole way back. Raph was happy to sprint too. I didn't blame him.
Aside from the extra guests joining our adventure, it was a stunning sight to see and as always, being out amongst the trees and the crisp air, it was a much needed change from the busy city.
Cradle Mountain was one of the most magical places I had ever been. This is the second last set of images and posts from my Tasmania adventure. These images were taken on the Dove Lake Circuit, at the foot of Cradle Mountain. After free-camping a little while away, we drove to the pick up point where a shuttle bus would take us to the beginning of the circuit. Winding through deep, lush forest, out through valleys and mountain sides, we arrived at Dove Lake.
Cradle Mountain was covered in a blanket of thick clouds, only peeping out momentarily. It got its name from its likeness to a baby's cradle, with the baby's head just showing (you can see it in the very last image). We began the walk and the bitter winds blew forcefully through us. It began with such an open, slightly barren, rocky environment, suddenly slipping into rich Australian bushland. Before we knew it, our surroundings became rainforest-like. Cooler, darker and every shade of green that you could imagine. Moss crawled and covered almost everything it could; claiming the tallest fallen trees, almost bringing them back to life. We stepped foot into the 'Ballroom Forest'. I can hardly explain the feeling I felt walking into this forest. It was like I was five again. My mind wandered and I could see fairies dancing among the soft moss, gathering by the clear waters of the creek. Walking into such magic, with trees so old and wise, they were like the elders of the forest. I felt blessed to be there. It was like the elders watched over me, as I stood at their feet. I respected their way. It was a deep connection that I'll never forget.
As we left the forest, the land changed again, opening out to a rocky mountain side. The clouds greeted us and it began to snow. It was only light, but it still made me burst with joy. I hadn't touched snow since I was a young child. Pure happiness, was all that existed in that moment.
The journey took us just over two or three hours. A journey I could do a thousand times over. Thank you Dove Lake for all you gave. For your elders who welcomed our souls and gave us more than they know. The grounding of purity, respect and gratitude. Thank you.
Our journey began to one of my favourite places of the adventure; Cradle Mountain. On the road, we were gifted with one of the most beautiful sunsets I had and have ever seen. The sky, like flames, softly changing to pastels. It painted the world around us shades of gold and pink. We hit the road again and suddenly darkness fell. We hadn't found our next campsite. So after a lot of driving around and asking locals, we travelled to another free campsite, a little while out from Cradle Mountain. This was one of the coldest nights we had yet. It wasn't the first time we arrived at our campsite at night. It's almost exciting in a way, knowing that when you wake up, all your surroundings are a complete surprise! This campsite was beautiful and surprisingly, it was straight off the main road (not that it's a busy main road at all).
I woke early again before the others and slipped out of bed into a bitterly cold morning. It didn't stop me from going on a little exploration around the area. The sun slowly rose above the hill ahead, turning the sky a soft yellow and pink. The river beside us, ran loudly. I sat and listened, admiring it's unknowing strength. I continued to find plant species I'd never seen before and it repeatedly astounded me.
By the time I got back, Brad was out on an adventure too. We both met back at the van and made the morning ritual chai tea. We cooked breakfast, got ready for the day and made our way to Cradle Mountain.
We did a whole lot of driving on this day. Most days, actually. We left our magical spot at Diana's Basin and were bound for the Douglas Aspley National Park. The roads wound through mountains and past fields by the sea. The ocean was too beautiful to keep driving, so we stopped and felt the sand between our toes. Before we knew it, we were driving through the country side. That's something I found remarkable about Tasmania; it's incredible diversity, so closely connected. Nearing the end of the trip when we were walking the Dove Lake circuit, I thought about the incredible diversity. The combination of words that came to mind for Tasmania was the land of diverse symbiosis. All the terrains and ecosystems, so different from each other, but yet, so intertwined.
We reached the national park and began the hike to the Douglas Aspley Gorge. Some parts of the hike weren't easy, but it was all worth it once we arrived. We were all so warm by the time we got there, we took off all our winter layers and splashed ourselves with the fresh running water. We lay on the rocks, warming our skin with the sun. Soon it was time to leave, so we decided to take a different route back, down stream. The rocks were quite slippery, but alas we continued only for a few minutes when I took quite a fall, saving my camera before myself (fellow photographer friends will probably understand why...). I slipped backwards and luckily my backpack softened the fall, so nothing was hurt. Some of my friends had a couple of slips before me, so we thought that was enough bad luck and decided to go back the way we came.
On our way back, we couldn't help but stay a little longer to take some more photos. It began to rain lightly only for a moment. Long enough for me to capture its beauty kissing the rocks of the river.
Our third home for the night was Diana's Basin. It was a complete spontaneous decision to camp here, as the sun was quickly bidding the day farewell. We planned to drive much further to another campsite, but we didn't have time. We pulled in and searched for a site. A space, cleared perfectly amongst a circle of ghost-gums. The golden light kissed our skin and danced across the water right before us, while we gathered firewood from dead trees and set up camp. That night, the sky was illuminated by millions of sparkling stars. We all walked into the darkness to see the magic above.
Before we knew it, the new day was before us. I woke earlier than the others, and quietly climbed out of bed to take some photos of the clouded mountains ahead. The peaceful quietness of just sitting by the river bank, watching the birds cruise the water and the sun rising was a blissful state that I can't quite explain. Soon, the others woke, we cooked breakfast, packed up and made our way to the Douglas Aspley National Park.
It's been almost a month since I've posted images from my trip to Tasmania in July. Slowly, but surely they are making an appearance! This set of images were taken at the stunning Bay of Fires. It was our second stop of the adventure. We set off from our first campsite in the morning and arrived to the white-sanded beach, with rolling storm clouds above. As cold as it was, a young boy ran shirtless, splashing in the sea; something none of us could comprehend, while we watched and shivered. I walked to the shore and danced my fingers in the cold ocean. We then found our way to the famous fiery coloured boulders of the bay and clambered over them to take photos and soak up some warmth from the sun poking its way through the clouds. We found a playground on our way to a cafe that overlooked the bay. In seconds, we reverted back to the inner child and hung from the monkey-bars and swung from the swings. After our childhood-embracing detour, we warmed up with some hot drinks before hitting the road again.
Our first stop for the trip was Policemans Point. I flew in to Launceston in the evening and my friends picked me up in the Wicked campervan that we would be living in for the next week. We drove for an hour or so, and pulled off the road to cook dinner. Well, we had dinner made for us actually, by the head chef of the trip, Brad. Before we knew it, we were back on the road. Since it was dark, driving on unsealed roads, we had to move quite slowly due to the crazy amount of wildlife around. There was no reception out where we were, so it was back to good old REAL map reading for us to find our way; and eventually we got to our destination!
The next morning, our van overlooked a beautiful field, with mountains in the distance. I took a walk and noticed all the new kinds of flora I'd never seen before. We made chai and walked down to the seaside to find the clearest of waters running over pure white sand. One thing I couldn't believe was the size of the seaweed washed to shore. Seaweed with growth wider than my handspan. I'd never seen it before! We collected pretty seashells and walked back for breakfast, ready to hit the road again.
I'm on the train writing this. Strangers with lives unknown, what they lead is unknown. In a new city, that is not so new to me. I grew up here in Sydney, but never had the chance to explore. With new, older eyes, I see it like never before.
We moved from Brisbane, to Townsville, to Sydney all in the matter of a few months, maybe less. I'm a talented runner. Running from what is real is something I do quite well. Feeling that sometimes I'm running toward a false hope. Confusion was the theme for the beginning of the year. Where to go, what to do. A multitude of sleepless nights and days began to tie together.
Everything was new and exciting, but my mind struggled when distraction wasn't near. I was staying between my grandma's, my best friends place and just down the road at Raph's aunties place in the city. It was liberating, but at the same time a lost feeling. Raph was still in Townsville unsure of when to begin the drive down and almost everything was up in the air. Nothing was settled. In those times, life can be raw and real. Eventually Raph began his journey to sydney. At the time a cyclone was forming off the coast of northern queensland. It was dangerous and we spent each hour calling each other to update one another. He didn't know whether to stay the night where he had stopped or if he had to try and get infront of the cyclone. If he stayed, he would be stuck. For days, or even more than a week. We didn't know what the cyclone would bring. After hours of debating and calling for advice from family, he left and beat it. The next day, he surprised me, showing up at the front door at midnight. Completely exhausted. We sat under the night sky, lit by the city in disbelief that he was there. It didn't feel real. I hadn't seen him for over a month.
A week later I saw that Angus & Julia Stone and The Cat Empire were playing for free. I went along with my best friend and her boyfriend and we danced and danced and danced. It began to rain and some of the crowd cleared during the concert. It didn't worry us one bit. We danced in the rain, and it was wonderful.
Weeks pass and life starts to form again. We had still been staying with family until we got on our feet and found a home of our own. We moved into our studio and what felt like broken pieces in my mind, started to mend, slowly. We live in a terrace house near the city. Our home would have originally been the living and dining room. The old fireplace rests, sadly boarded up. My mind wanders to all the conversations had over so, so many years. My imagination runs wild. We have to start our home again. From owning everything we needed in our Brisbane home and leaving it all behind, the beginning began, again. It's a liberating feeling starting all over. The first night we slept on the floor in our very bare, furniture-less home. It was imaginably uncomfortable, but we finally had a home of our own. It didn't matter.
Life settled, and we took a trip the blue mountains. After going through the last couple of months, it took a toll, so the day in the mountains was nothing but bliss. The air was cool and thin. I stepped out of the car and took a deep breath. Raph was halfway through a sentence when I cut across with my disbelief of the quietness. Immediately my mind, my thoughts, my worries were gone. An indescribable peace came over me.
Soon it was the anniversary of my Nana's passing. Twelve years it has been. We met my family down at the beach she would swim at. My Nana and Pa would take me here as a little girl, to swim and collect buckets of sea shells. I stood at the edge of the rocky shore. We each threw a flower out to sea. I closed my eyes as I let go. Her face and voice played in my mind. The little things. How she would answer the phone. How she would bake vanilla cupcakes with me every time I visited. And then I thought of the times she was her very absent minded self. I laughed to myself and smiled as I watched the flower drift away.
Before I knew it, I was on a flight to Brisbane to complete exams and begin my free month of photoshoots. My dad was picking me up from the airport. As I get off the plane, I try countless times to turn my phone on, but it doesn't work. I couldn't tell him I had arrived. My thoughts started to run wild. How will he know I'm here? What if I'm stuck here overnight?! I didn't have any money except a $2 coin. I run to the pay-phone, but it rejects the call. I panic more and then I remember I have to collect my luggage. In a jittery mess I find the way to my luggage and spot another pay-phone. Please, please work. It works, but my dad doesn't answer. With a racing heart and stuttering sentences, I leave a message that made little to no sense. I hoped it was clear enough to know where to get me. With the best relief, I spotted his car in the distance and started waving my arms madly.
I stayed with dad and his partner just north of Brisbane for the week. It had been a long time since I had spent time with him. Each time before had always been rushed. I was so grateful to have that extra time.
Between exams I wandered around the city to search for lunch. I remembered that Bakery Lane had opened not long ago, so I made my way to check it out. I walked in, entranced by the beauty of the enchanted decorations in the little stores. In a daze, I'm woken by my name being called. My friend Christine is running down the lane, arms flailing wildly and throws them around me. I was so shocked and so, so happy to see her! She said our friend Brad was there too. I join them for a lunch of the most amazing brownies. (Don't judge. I did get an incredible pickled veggie wrap if you're worried). We caught up and spoke about our lives and suddenly we were discussing me coming along on their adventure throughout Tasmania next month. After exclaiming our excitement for the adventure ahead, I had to leave for my exam. I walked back down the lane with a giant grin on my face and all I could think was that I was meant to visit Bakery Lane that day.
At the end of the week I was completely exhausted. I had finished my exams and a bunch of photoshoots. Each night was filled with studying and editing until the early hours of the morning. One day nearing the end of the week, I sat in New Farm Park before a photoshoot. I arrived an hour earlier and I felt faint, I was so, so tired. The sun was warm, so I took off my shoes and thought about the last time I had done just that. I lay down beneath a rose bush, listening to the deep hum of the bees, feeling the suns warmth on my skin and drifted off to sleep.
The week passed like a whirlwind, but it felt long when I thought about Raph. Only a week, but it felt like more. We would speak everyday, but it wasn't the same.
I catch the train to stay with my mum on the Sunshine Coast. I hadn't seen her in almost half a year. The train passed through fruit tree orchards, strawberry and pineapple fields, past mountain ranges and thick Australian bush. I never tire of the scenery on that trip. She met me at the station and we began the drive home. We talked and caught up on each other's lives the whole way home. That night we went out to dinner with the people I would see every week when I lived there. They are like family to us. Day's passed and we did something different every day. One of the days we went out to a sustainable organic cafe. They grow an abundance of organic vegetables on a magical plot of land. I sat and admired a mother pointing out and teaching her young daughter the plants in the garden, while other children ran around in the yard. It made me think of when I will teach my children about the life of plants some day.
Two weeks passed and the next thing I knew, I was on a flight back to Sydney. I peered out into the darkness and tiny city lights began to appear. My heart began to quicken and I felt excited and nervous, thinking I was to see Raph so soon. It felt like being a young teenager again, falling into a fleeting, innocent love. It felt ridiculous, but at the same time exhilarating. And then I saw him at the opposite end of the path. We walked toward each other and my heart beat faster and faster. He held me, and I was home.
We took a spontaneous trip to the Blue Mountains. Only just over an hours drive from our doorstep, it was magical. The town and its mountains were covered in a soft blanket of thick fog, creating the most mystical scenes. As we stepped out of the car on arrival, the air was thin, cool and crisp; a refreshing change from the city air. The quietness was almost indescribable. Just the sounds of sprinkling rain, and light winds through the valley. We stopped in the main town of Katoomba and visited the blue mountains co-op to see what locally grown produce they had to offer. We then visited a little cafe on one of the main streets for lunch and continued on exploring. Driving along the scenic route, through neighbourhoods and winding roads, the streets were painted with bright red and orange autumn leaves. We then reached an incredible sight. You could say it was almost a graveyard of trees; burnt from bush fires. The scene was eerily beautiful. Before we knew it, we accidentally entered the highway back to sydney. A short, but a very much needed escape from the busy city.
An appreciation post for this incredible and awesome guy. Thank you for all you do and thank you for being you.
(And thank you for making sure we both didn't get run over taking this shot)
April has been a month of so much. We've moved to a new home close to the city, in a studio. The studio is inside an old terrace house, once one big home, but now split into studio apartments. Our room is the one with the fireplace. Maybe it was the family room, once upon a time. Can you imagine how many conversations happened around that fire? The walls would have a million stories! Raph works everyday now and I spend the days working on all different things. I finally came to the decision recently that I will leave studies to rest for a while. A lot of things have happened in recent years that haven't been dealt with, so it's time to deal with them and heal to move forward. Art has always been my calling, but I've never been true to myself about it. So now is the time to put my focus into art and healing.
Days have been filled with creating and planning new projects that will be a big focus once I finish this semester of studies. In between job searching, and finishing off the last of assessments, there's been a whole lot of editing images (my favourite!), searching for places to travel and photograph and learning the ropes of this new, but familiar city. I grew up in Sydney, but since I was here until I was only fourteen, I didn't have a chance to explore it. So with older, but new eyes, I can appreciate this city for what it is.
It's funny, since making the giant decision of leaving studies (for now), it's like the world immediately opened its doors. A few days prior to making the decision, I was at a bookstore with Raph. He was further down the store and called out to me to see something. At the same time, I called him over to see something too, but to my defeat, stubbornly (we're both very stubborn) he said "No, you really have to see this." So I walked over and there was a book about photography, with a small piece of cardboard in front of it that said my name, 'Jess'. I thought how weird and cool it was, and then as I slowly reached to pick it up, one of my favourite songs (Teardrop by Massive Attack) started playing. Maybe it was life telling me that I was heading the right way with my decision, until another sign happened. A few days ago, my aunty invited me to see a documentary with herself and my uncle, about the Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado, in Newtown. I was enjoying the documentary so much, but during it I had to very quickly leave for the bathroom. As I was walking, almost running so I didn't miss much, my attention fixed to the song playing aloud in the cinema. It was the song that I used on my very first short film that I made of my first trip overseas, when I first fell in love with filming and putting videos together. The song is not a popular song at all; out of all the songs that exist in this world, this single song had to be played. All at the same time as watching this photographer and learning about how he followed his passion in photography and documented the world, it was another sign, I thought.
A few days ago, I went out photographing and location scouting with Raph's cousin Thom (photographed above) and I was also accepted to be a part of a small stock photography agency based only a few suburbs away from where we live, all in the same day.
The doors of opportunities are opening, and I thank you universe.