September 2013

Cameron Corner – There and Back (Part 1)

As soon as we arrived back from our last trip to the outback regions of NSW my wife, Danni and I couldn’t wait to plan another trip to explore more locations.  After looking at a map of NSW and googling various locations of interest we decided upon a route that was a big loop around the NSW outback.

The Route

We had planned to leave bright and early on the Sunday morning and drive straight to Lightning Ridge but we are both impatient and as soon as the car was packed on the Saturday night we headed off.  We made it to Dubbo and caught a few hours sleep before continuing on to Lightning Ridge.  For those that haven’t been to Lightning Ridge it is an opal mining town and is dotted with mounds of opal dirt.  There are self guided tours that you can take by following the colour coded car doors.

Some of the locals seem very protective of their opal mines.

They Don’t Muck Around Out Here

A popular place in Lightning Ridge is the hot artesian baths which are a constant 41.5 C and is a very relaxing way to end the day.

There are quite a few odd looking “dwellings” around the town including houses made out of glass bottles, sheets of iron around caravans and a church that was built for the movie “The Goddess of 1967”.

Church built for the Goddess of 1967 movie

In the background of the church photo you can see all the mounds of opal dirt.  We hadn’t seen enough mounds of opal dirt at this stage so we decided to pay a visit to the Club in the Scrub and the Hilton Hotel at Grawin.  These are both very interesting places to visit and you are bound to see a few unusual locals around the area.  Make sure that you pack your golf clubs as the Club in the Scrub has it’s very own golf course!

Outback Golf Course

After spending a pleasant two nights at the Opal Cottage we packed the car up again and headed west towards Wanaaring where we had booked a nights accommodation in the pub at the bargain price of $65!.  I must admit that you get what you pay for but the bed was comfortable and the shower was awesome (hot and powerful).

Only the way we passed through a lot of wide open spaces and some scary towns.  You don’t feel very safe when you towns with every window and door barred.

Wide Open Spaces

We had planned to drive directly from Bourke to Wanaaring but a road train had become stuck on the dirt road and the road was blocked to traffic.  A quick look at the map and we found that if we headed north through Fords Bridge and further towards the Qld border that we could cut across and then drive back down to Wanaaring.  Fords Bridge is basically a pub on the side of the road but we stopped and had a few beers and lots of laughs with a few locals.  We don’t know how it happened but the quick visit turned into a longer one and we ended up playing a TV quiz type game on the front verandah of the pub.

Time for a Detour

Despite having a great time at the pub we had to head off again before it got too late as it is not safe to drive on the outback roads at dusk due to the wild pigs, emus and kangaroos that often cross the road without warning.  We nearly did get hit by a black pig that was was wide as it was tall and it came barrelling out from the scrub on the side and we narrowly avoiding colliding with it.

We drove for hours on the detour and didn’t see any other cars or people.  There was a scary moment for Danni (she said something like Oh Shit) when the car slid off the wet road and into a boggy patch and stopped.  It wasn’t a problem as I put the Navara into low range and drove it back onto the dry surface without any trouble at all.

If you look at this photo of the typical road you will understand how just a small amount of rain can turn it into a problem.

 

Road to Wanaaring

People of the outback seem to be having a competition to see who can have the most unusual mail boxes and this one was one of the most unusual ones that we come across.

Unusual Mail Box

Wanaaring is not a very big town and we didn’t stray far away from the pub while we were there.  We were lucky to score the honeymoon suite out near the clothes line.

Wanaaring Honeymoon Suite

We woke to a foggy morning and did a quick tour of the town, from memory I think that only 3 families live in the town and they were all related!  We had some time to kill as we needed fuel and the general store wasn’t yet open so we headed down to the Paroo River to cook some breakfast.

The fog still hadn’t lifted by the time that breakfast was finished but the general store was now open and we could fuel up for the drive to Tibooburra which is known as the most remote town in NSW.

Wanaaring General Store

 

Look out for the next instalment of Cameron Corner – There and Back, which will include Tibooburra and Cameron Corner.

The Lost City

Over the last weekend I headed out with my photography friends, Kath, Brendan and Don to a new location by the name of The Lost City which surprisingly enough can “found” in the Wollemi National Park.

To find the Lost City you need to first make your way to the Zig Zag Railway at Clarence NSW.  From there you head out along a dirt road adjacent to the Newnes State Forest until you reach the Old Bells Line of Road where you turn right.  You then continue along until you reach the Bungleboori Campground where you turn off the road and start travelling along a 4WD track which leads to a small car park which overlooks the Lost City.  I must admit that the drive along this track was quite exciting as I had not previously needed to leave my car in low range for such an extended period of time.  The track included some very deep holes, dodging fallen trees, driving over boulders and through small sections of water.  Don, our fearless 4WD leader assured me that there would not be any problems driving in and he was right.

The Lost City is comprised of hundreds of exposed Hawkesbury sandstone outcrops which dot the surrounding mountains.

Looking west over the Lost City

For me the main purpose of the trip was to be in a remote location away from city lights so that I could shoot photos of the night sky.  Having done my research I knew that it was the perfect time for the Milky Way to be visible and all we had to do was hope that we had a clear night sky.

While we were waiting for darkness we used the opportunity to grab a few shots as the sun was setting and it created some stunning colours on the exposed sandstone.

Sunset Rock

 

In the image below you can see the path that leads up to the car park where we camped for the night.  Having made quite a few trips up and down the path during the time that we were there I was a bit sore the day after.

Lost City Panorama

 

As the sun started to set the clouds began to roll in and we knew that we would not have a much time to capture the Milky Way so we acted quickly to work out the best compositions as soon as it became visible. We also had to contend with a wind that had started to blow quite hard.  During long exposures a wind causes havoc with things like trees and bushes and there is no way that you can keep them from blurring during the exposure.

The Milky Way

In the photo of the Milky Way you can already see the clouds appearing and it wasn’t long before there were quite a few starting to obscure the Milky Way.

The Clouds Rolling In

As a photographer you learn to make the best of the conditions that prevail so a longer exposure was used to capture clouds movement.

Cloud Fans

Without something of  a known size in a photo it is often difficult to gauge the size of what you are looking at so I made sure that I captured an image which included my friend Brendan.  By including him in the image it becomes a lot easier to put things in perspective.

In Perspective

Overall it was a very enjoyable and worthwhile trip.  We all ended up with some great shots and even had a chance to photograph a dome created by my friend Kath.

The Dome

If you would like any further information on the location, how the photos were taken or to purchase a photo simply use the contact tab on my website.

Andrew Strong and the Commitments

For those of you that don’t know Andrew Strong, in 1992 at the age of 16 he was the lead singer in the Alan Parker’s movie The Commitments. He had a powerful voice back then and nothing has changed.  It has now been 21 years since the release of the movie and Andrew Strong has hand picked musicians to join him on a tour of Australia.

Having seen Andrew Strong perform on a previous visit to Australia I couldn’t wait to see him perform again and despite the 2hr mid week drive each way to The Entrance Leagues Club I was determined to see him perform.  I wasn’t disappointed!

Andrew Strong @ The Entrance Leagues Club

Before the current show at the Entrance he had already performed in Fremantle, Darwin and Coffs Harbour with many more towns to come.

The Entrance Leagues Club is a small venue which quickly filled and I doubt if anyone in the audience was disappointed with the performance.  Andrew is such a powerful singer and he sung all the classics from the movie including “Mustang Sally”, “In The Midnight Hour”, “Dark End of the Street”, “I Thank You”, “Show Me”, “Treat Her Right” and “Hard to Handle”.

Andrew Strong

The stage was jam packed with all 8 members of the band including a female back-up singer who sang “I Never Loved A Man” and a few of the other female lead songs from the movie.  It was a shame that Andrew didn’t bring the original “Commitmentettes” (Angeline Ball, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Bronagh Gallagher) but not having them there did not detract from the quality of the show.

Great to see that Andrew still enjoys performing the songs from the Commitments

It wasn’t only Andrew who enjoyed himself

Any new or even established artists that need to develop a stage presence and learn how to work the crowd should go to a few of Andrew’s shows as he had the audience eating out of his hands and screaming out for more at the end of the night. Andrew is one of the few artists that I never tire of listening to!  His music has a timeless quality about it and he sings it so passionately.

Andrew Strong in action at the Entrance Leagues Club

I enjoyed the gig so much that I have already purchased tickets to see him again in Sydney later this month.

Andrew’s Website is http://www.andrewstrong.com/

The support acts on the night were Mark Cashin and the Lil Hussy’s https://myspace.com/markcashinband and the Blues Angels https://www.facebook.com/pages/BluesAngels/128130360530913

McAlister Kemp @ Wallacia Hotel 17.8.13

One of the newest venues for country music in the west of Sydney is the recently renovated Wallacia Hotel.   I headed out there not long ago to see a live performance by McAlister Kemp who are huge in stature and sound.   If I had to nominate a country band that will make it big then this would be the one.  Drew McAlister and Troy Kemp share the vocals with their powerful voices.   Their songs really appealed to the crowd who didn’t take long to get up and dance in front of the stage.

There is a perception amongst those that do not really know country music that it is quiet and boring.  If this is what you think then I suggest that you head out and catch one McAlister Kemp’s gigs and that view will still be dispelled as the band belts out some huge country rock numbers.  On the night they played all their hits “Country Proud”, “All Kinds of Tough”, “Hell Yeah”, “It Don’t Buy You Love”, ”Blue Collar Nights”,  “It Don’t Buy You Love” and “Hard Work”.  The crowd were also treated to the unveiling of their new single “Harder to Tame”.

It’s not only the audiences that they have won over with their music and lyrics but also international stars.  McAlister Kemp not only supported Alan Jackson when he toured Australia but were also invited to the USA to perform by Big & Rich.

Both Drew and Troy are accomplished songwriters and their lyrics resonate with the country music fans as they write about life and the issues that we all face.

The band’s appeal is not limited to a specific generation as the young and not so young members of the crowd were singing along to the hits all night.

They have released two albums so far All Kinds of Tough (2010) and Country Proud (2012).  A new album Harder to Tame will be released in January 2014 to coincide with the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Their music sound and style appears to be heavily influenced by American country music which I personally really enjoy.

 

If you are looking for a great night of entertainment then this country rock band may be just what you are looking for and they may just change your perception of country music.  They are loud and energetic and have quickly learnt how to engage the audience.

Future gigs and announcements can be found on their website http://www.mcalisterkemp.com/

As for the Wallacia Hotel, the food is great and the outdoor entertainment area is huge with plenty of it undercover.  As an entertainment venue it has a huge potential with my only suggestion being that they need to remove a post that is in the middle of the stage.  It really divided the stage in two and made it difficult for the audience to see everything.

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