Australia, Beach & Coastal Walking, Streams, Creeks & Rivers
Comments 17

What I Did at the Seaside: An Aimless Thousand Miles #3

The final instalment of Sandgate pictures taken over five months and a thousand miles of coastal rambling.

There are a few stormy pictures here — appropriately, as this morning a late-season cyclone named Marcia shifted rapidly in severity from Category 1 to 5 (the worst) and crossed the Queensland coast near Yeppoon about 680km (422m) north of Brisbane.

I broke my arm and ruptured an eardrum in Yeppoon when I was a kid. That put a damper on the family holiday and my lower left arm still doesn’t look right to me. Reports suggest quite a nasty streak of destruction up there.

We’re getting a bit of rain down here and as the storm moves south (weakening as it goes) we should be in for some serious downpours tomorrow and beyond, coinciding nicely with some king tides, so local creeks and waterways will be ripe to bursting.

Another cyclone just did its thing up in the Northern Territory at virtually the same time. This pair has arrived late in the season and apparently the late ones are generally the worst.

Anyway, a dramatic near-end (please!) of another subtropical Summer — and a stormy beginning to the Year of the Goat.

With a title like that it’s bound to be awesome.


FIRST LIGHT. The sun emerges beyond the cranes of the Port of Brisbane.


AQUA-HIKING. Off Brighton, wading through an incoming tide. I used to do this as often as possible before my Pacific Crest Trail hike in 2010. I reasoned that dragging my legs through water while wearing a pack might condition me a little for snow travel. But what it failed to prepare me for was the VISCERAL TERROR of some of those high passes in the Sierra. Plus, there are few stingrays in the mountains.


DAWN ON THE SEAWALL. Two container ships approach the Port of Brisbane as the tide rises at Sandgate (same morning as above).


ALL PUFFED OUT. I’ve found all manner of interesting things in my career as a beachcomber and all-round bum, but these are pretty rare. Apparently there are 48 species of puffer fish recorded in Queensland waters.


MOONSET BEYOND THE MUDFLATS. Yet another magical morning on the flats. I could see the moon low in the sky as I hurried up the pre-dawn streets, hoping to make the waterfront before she sank out of sight. Made it with about 10 minutes to spare!


GIVING THE DOG A BATH. It’s a rare mutt that doesn’t enjoy the sea.


SKY AFLAME. A Volunteer Rescue boat on Cabbage Tree Creek is illuminated by a pretty special sunrise.


FOOTWEAR OPTIONAL. Sometimes I have so many things dangling from my pack, and stuffed within it, that just strolling on the flats feels like a workout. What I hate is when I crouch down to take a picture and a shoe swings into my head. Fortunately you can swear quite loudly out there and cause minimal offence.


BLUE RIPPLES. I never tire of the mudflats because they aren’t the same two days in a row. No doubt the incoming tide carves new channels and pools according to certain natural laws and properties, but it always seems so arbitrary.


SKELETAL SUBMARINER. Journey’s end is just another tide away.


SEAGULLS FACE THE STORM. During the storm season a couple of months ago, we got short but intense weather events every day or two, blowing over from the south-west. I’m often drawn to a waterfront shelter (as in the header picture, which is at Cabbage Tree Creek) to observe. Sometimes the thunder was alarmingly explosive. Food for thought: a man was killed by lightning while sheltering under one of these just after voting in the recent state election.


A STORMY CONVERSATION. Of course, each storm brought a welcome cool change that sometimes proved irresistible.


AND THEN THERE WAS ONE. Edging infinitesimally closer to the end of the breakwater (or groyne) to photograph seabirds (since I lack a zoom) requires a lot of patience but I am definitely time-rich at this point in my life.


THE SEAWALL, DUSK. The Redcliffe bridge in the distance, in the beautiful cool light half an hour or so after sunset.


SHARING THE SPOTLIGHT. A pair of pelicans resting among the masts at the Sandgate Cruising Yacht Club.


NIGHT SHIFT. A trawler heading out past Baxter’s Jetty in late afternoon.


A SAUCER FULL OF SECRETS. A tree next to the former Baptist church is reflected in a water-filled stingray hole in late dusk. I was very proud of this one, as I couldn’t see the hole and reflection at all in the viewfinder, but fluked a perfect alignment of the camera on a 6-inch plastic tripod on my first attempt. This was a 13-second exposure.


NIGHT PROWLER. Minutes later, I thought I’d attempt a long exposure of the church by night. As I squatted there on the roadside with my tiny tripod, a police car approached and cruised past, the occupant regarding me from the window. Nothing to see here, move along. Six seconds.


TRANSFIXED BY CLOUDS. Awaiting its human companion in the last minutes of day.


PINK STORMLIGHT. I’ve photographed those three navigation lights at the mouth of Cabbage Tree Creek hundreds of times. They flash, and I use a timer to avoid camera shake, so it’s always a gamble as to whether I catch them, but a long exposure helps. This was during a storm on my first expedition with a real tripod (the night I took the header shot at the top of this post). The light of sunset, distorted by the rain, resulted in this wonderful pinkish glow.


BAXTER IN THE STORM. On the same evening, making good use of the tiny fold-up umbrella I’ve carried in my pack since my walk through Shikoku, Japan, in 2009. Japan makes great cars, cameras and umbrellas. Nuclear reactors: hmmm, not so good.


THE KITE-FLYING PERFECTIONIST. You wouldn’t believe how time-consuming it was for this man to get his craft airborne, but the effort was worth it.


GAZING INTO THE MIRROR. A white-faced heron enjoying a hunter’s vantage point on the Brighton seawall, on one of those cloudy days that make the reflections in the incoming tide leap out with clarity & colour.


A CONFUSION OF GULLS. Another morning of bad weather and the local seagulls were weirdly agitated, swirling and darting in ever-bigger flocks.

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote


  1. You know me and already know how I reacted to reading you broke your arm….yes before I read on I mildly freaked out because well that’s what I do! Fantastic photos, of course. I loved that photo of you-well done! And that puffer fish too….and first light. You are so talented! 😊

  2. My favourite is the stingray pool reflection. Pictures like this should be winning competitions, featured in magazines or hanging in a gallery. Your blog is helping me get over my northside traffic phobia as I really need to see this area in person now.

    • Thanks for the nice compliment. I would like to see a few of my pictures on a wall in nice frames, though I fear it would just make it easier for me to critique and find fault with them!

      I really can’t look too closely at “real” photographers’ work in magazines etc anymore as it just makes me want to quit! Funny, as in the early days of playing with the camera (especially when I was “lesson planning” in the staff room at my Korean school), I did so a lot. I think it’s very useful and crucial even, when you’re finding your feet.

      It’s the same with reading/writing, in a way. On the one hand, you need to read/look at other people’s art to keep that part of your brain stimulated, but on the other, it can kill your confidence and make you wary of subconsciously copying them. Another good way to give up any dreams of publishing is to stroll through a bookstore. Yikes! All that product, all that competition, all those bestsellers taking up the prime real estate.

      I’m my own worst publicist. But all going well I will finally print a few one-off photo books built around certain themes, just so I can feel the pleasure of having some pictures in physical form. Kate’s already printed several of mine — I never have. Into the digital black hole I go!

    • If and when I organise a self-published photo book of some type (there are several options online nowadays), I think I will mention it on here in case anyone wants one. Even I should be able to work out how to do that!

  3. Alice says

    Makes me want to kick off my shoes and two pair of socks! It’s your year, Goat.

    • Cheers. I would recommend this pack (it’s a Patagonia, expensive but worth it) to anyone that abuses their gear like I do. I’m amazed at how much I routinely fit in it and it carries really well. Sadly I blew a zip on it the other day, though — zippers are always the weak link in my experience.

  4. A gorgeous set of images. Especially love the heron and reflections, and that little plant and its reflection in the sand.

    • Yeah, thanks, not sure how much is a quirk of the camera and my particular combo of settings, lens etc, but I seem to get a nice almost painting/cartoon look in-camera when I take shots like that.

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