Search This Blog

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Carla - Queen of the Murchison

Two weeks ago two busloads of photographers and artists rolled into the old gold mining town of Cue 650 kilometres north of Perth. I had a bit of a feeling of deja vu as we pitched tents in the Cue Caravan Park. Forty years earlier in 1974 I had led a bunch of 24 TAFE photography students from Mt Lawley Technical College to Cue and Daydawn for a week long photography excursion. How I returned with all 24 students alive is beyond me. At one stage three 17 year olds went missing. I found them at the bottom of a vertical mine shaft pushing an old rail trolley along in pitch blackness.

So here I was back in Cue with a bunch of very respectable, mature age photographers and another bunch of even more respectable artists with easels and watercolours led by renowned watercolourist Ross Patterson.

While the painters painted, the photographers engaged in historical architecture in Cue's main street. Austin Street is wide enough to fit the MCG and Subiaco Oval side by side. Its  lined with wonderful old historical stone, wooden and galvanised iron buildings.  There's abandoned shops, the old bank of NSW and the Queen of the Queen of the Murchison Hotel.

I spotted a small throng of people on the upstairs balcony of the Queen of  Murchison Hotel which is now a charming old B & B. When we finished the worksop I wandered inside the front door of the 'Queen', and then opened another door which rang a bell.

All was quiet when another 'Belle' arrived - a blonde Belle. Her eyes lit up when she saw an old  photographer with camera and tripod, covered in red dust.

'This is NOT a public thoroughfare!
 Would you please leave now' was 'Belles' opening salvo.

A bit a f a jolt. Not exactly a warm greeting.
'I'm sorry' I said
'I saw you standing on the balcony and would really love to photograph you'
Her stern face faded instantly.
'Why?' she asked
'I just think you have such an interesting face. Are you the owner or manager here?'
She gave me a watermelon sized smile.
'I suppose so. I've been in the movies you know. And three years ago I was crowned Queen of the Murchison, my name is Carla.'
I shook Carla's hand.
'That's great. Can I have a look at the other rooms. I would like to get some good lighting on your face'.
She led  me down a  passage, through an atrium, passed her collection of Harley Davidsons and into a dining area.
'This would be great just here. The lighting is really good for you/
She beamed.
'I was given a tiara when I was crowned Queen of the Murchison. Would you like me to wear my tiara?'
Now I beamed
'Of course! A tiara would be perfect.
After all, you are a Queen'

ps The pub has no beer. But it does have Carla.
pss Next time I visid CueI plan to stay at the Queen of the Murchison!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Red Dirt

Our old bus was called 'Ernest Giles' after the explorer.
'Ernie', as Sharon affectionately called him had covered more than three million kilometres - not bad for an old boy with a dodgy clutch and what looks like a bullet hole in the windscreen.
As Sharon crunched through the gears on the 'crash' box (no modern fangled mamsy pamsy synchromesh here thank you!!) she urged Ernie on affectionaly 'Comnon Ernie, you can do it; Good boy Ernie I knew you could'.
We all grew accustomed to Ernie. So much so that when Sharon announced that the photographers were to transfer the sleek, modern state-of-the-arty MAN bus there was a resounding chorus of 'NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!'

We all came to love Ernie as he galumped comfortably and confidently down along the corrugated, dusty road red dirt bush roads, past Dooley Downs and on to Cobra Station.

*I believe they even named a milkman after Ernie. Click HERE to listen to 'Ernie'

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The irrepressible Aurelie

Worldwide copyright applies to all images on this blog. The copyright belongs to the individual photographers. All rights are reserved. Persons wishing to use any images on this blog should in the first instance make application to

The irrepressible Aurelie
She was our favorite model on tour - the most photographed person on tour! Aurelei was also the busiest person on tour producing a prolific quantity of images and artist pages. Often seen, brush in hand, trying to meet her quota over the noon and evening meal.

This was taken at Python pool; just before The Python arrived to take back his/her pool.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Honeycomb Gorge - Pilbara - Western Australia

Worldwide copyright applies to all images on this blog. The copyright belongs to the individual photographers. All rights are reserved. Persons wishing to use any images on this blog should in the first instance make application to

Honeycomb Gorge Photographers 2013
Back rowL-R: Cathy Taylor, Peter Randell, Maureen Thornton, Sue Moss, Carol Ware, Ray Moss, Sue Clarke, Rob Lewis, Paul Bastian, Tony Luha, Aurelie Yeo, Ric Butcher, Jill Luha
Middle row: Dale Neill, Kath Fordham
Front row:   Veronica & Barry Winterbourn, Gerhard Saueracker,  Heather Butcher    

Its late afternoon at Honeycomb Gorge in the Pilbara. We've got good at setting up bush camps and tents in record time. But we bend three out of four tent pegs in the gibber plain. There's a few colourful medical phrases, especially when someone mistakes their thumb fr a tent pole.

I'm proud of my intrepid photographers. They've suffered the slings and arrows of my stories and jokes. Better than that they've heeded a few of my tips and are producing some innovative images. Every third night we have a photography Show and Tell powered by Honda generators.

The more red we drink the better the photos look.

And we all enjoyed honey at Honeycomb Gorge!

Want to learn more about photography without eating red dust. Click HERE for details of Dale Neill photography courses at UWA Extension.

Dump Truck to Nowhere

In  the middle of nowhere - well the middle of the Pilbara - barely a tree in sight - red dust and stony ground  and we came across an abandoned dump truck.

What happened? Did they run out of fuel? Was this a case of stolen dump truck? The 'Mary Celeste' of trucks was surely this sad forlorn creature. The seats were ragged but the hydraulics were shiny chome like they were used that morning. (Worms-eye view on my Fuji X100)

Bus Stop - and MAN lights

On the way back to our campsite we paused for a sunset shoot inthe spinifix and snappy gum and more red dirt

MAN headlights
Just before we boarded the MAN bus I asked the driver Barry to turn the headlights on and snapped this shot handheld on my little Fuji X100 - one of my favourite little cameras.

Paynes Find

Artist, Joanne Payne at Paynes Find
Payne's Find is now just an iconic little roadhouse 430 kilometres north-east of Perth. Named after Thomas Payne who discovered gold there the town was gazetted in 1911 and boasted a population of 500 and a gold battery built.

They make really good chicked pies at Paynes Find. When I asked the lady behind the bar where they got their chickens she said 'Don't ask'