Kiama waterspoutA short note tonight; today was a 450K driving day, much of it lateral to my direction of travel. Think I got some good shots, but I've just arrived at my motel and it's about 7 pm and I don't have the strength to sort, photoshop and post todays harvest. If I can arrive at tomorrow's motel at a reasonably early time I'll have a crack at it. Awoke at 5:00 as has now become usual and threw on yesterdays clothes and went to watch the sun rise over the ocean. Got a couple of good shots, but not in a great spot for composition and didn't want to take the chance of driving around to find somewhere better because, when the sun decides to rise, it rises! and doesn't wait for you to find a better spot. Shower, breakfast and left about 8:30 and drove away from the sea into wonderful rolling hills, pastureland with cows and occasional stands of silver-trunked gum trees. The air could have been bottled; an endlessly high sky with not a cloud but surprisingly, a very stiff wind that continued to blow all day. The temperature was cool and with the wind, a coat was essential.

Small rapids in Budderoo National Park near Kiama, New South Wales, Australia, 3 second exposure. June 2011. Original size 5616x3744px. (Gerald FitzGerald)First stop was Budderoo National Park, about an hour's drive inland, which is a preserved rain forest with a raised boardwalk making a 2k circuit through it. Fabulous and I got some long exposure (30 seconds) pics of rapids and waterfalls which I have been wanting to try; a cliche I know, but I really like the dreamy quality of the water. The park's most famous residents are lyre birds which are, I gather, in mating season now and there was some hope of seeing one. No joy however; 10 am is not exactly a time that lends itself to dreams of high romance.

Much poking about the country, including a stop at Fitzroy Falls which is much higher than Niagara, and a pleasant drive down the Kangaroo Valley. However, I realized that it was 2:00, no lunch and while I had driven about 150k I was about parallel to my departure point and hadn't gained an inch of ground on Melbourne. So began some serious wending aided my friend the GPS to try and get back to the coast and to chop off some mileage to Melbourne. Arrived at Bateman's Bay at about 4:30, which is where I had originally planned to stop for the night but I didn't feel any chemistry and decided to push on. My destination was Narooma about 60k further on, which is where I'm spending the night. I have to say that last hour in the pitchy dark was not fun and I'm really happy that I've landed for the night.

Sunset over Bateman's Bay, New South Wales, Australia. Later discovered sky colour was a result of the atmospheric ash from the Iceland volcano. June 2011. Original size 5616x3744px. (Gerald FitzGerald)While in Bateman's Bay however, the sun began to set and it was the most, the MOST spectacular sunset that I can remember.The colours are impossible to describe but the entire sky was either lit with a palette of reds and crimson or was a backdrop of indescribable lapis. I can't recall ever seeing that lapis colour before. Of course I had to stop and try my luck (I know, sunsets are about as tired and common as Jack's hat but you really had to be there). The traffic was heavy and the only place I could find to pull over before I missed it was an industrial side road with a cement plant and a container trucking yard so I had to try and frame my shots to miss electric wires and poles, signs, barbed wire fences and stacks of containers. I'm looking forward to see how they turned out. (Comment added later: In retrospect I think that the luridness of the sunset and the colours must have been related to the Chilean ash cloud in the atmosphere.)

An hour later I stumbled on the little motel that I'm in for tonight so after a bite and a glass of wine, I'm calling today over. On balance a very good day.

Oz On the Road - Day Five

Oz On the Road - Day Three