Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
June 2021
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Maria Island Scout hike, day 1

It has been 12 years since I have been back to one of my favourite places on the planet, Maria Island, and the first time I’ve been there since I started using digital photography, with the liberating capacity to take as many photos as I want.

This trip was a Scout hike—well, two hikes in fact—with four of our older Scouts organising their Adventurer level hikes in pairs, and leading a patrol each. The adults, meanwhile, shadowed at a distance, catching up with the groups now and then to make sure they were okay (and this is partly why I haven’t included many photos of the kids).

On the way across to Maria Island the light effects over Freycinet Peninsula to the north were lovely.


Once on the island it was wonderful to see all the old familiar places, some unchanged, some a little different. I worked here as a ranger naturalist in the summer of 1986/87, and loved it, and then visited quite frequently for a few years thereafter; there have been a few extra changes since my last visit in 2003. Mrs Hunt’s cottage, accompanied by the two wind-blasted fig trees, sits up on the hill as a striking well-remembered landmark, although it has been restored a little since I first saw it in the eighties.


The view of Darlington Bay—with the old cement silos and the even older convict ruins, the Ile du Nord to the north, and Freycinet in the far distance—is another favourite.


And, of course, it was good to see the Cape Barren geese, with their fluorescent beaks.


We headed south, making good time and stopping for lunch at Four Mile Beach, with the sluggish creek behind it.




One of the groups camped at Frenchs Farm (of which more anon) and I left my gear there and took a walk around Chinamans Bay to Encampment Cove to where the other group was camping. I wanted to take advantage of the good weather and the late afternoon light to visit the old convict cells on Point Lesueur.


It’s not too hard to imagine what an alien isolating place this must have seemed to the convicts from England who ended up here in the early 1800s.



I was standing there admiring the view with two of the other “shadows” when we were rather taken aback by a low-flying Hercules (?) a mere 200m above us (and causing some brief speculation about a Tomorrow When the War Began scenario, when your home gets invaded while you’re out hiking).


We’d seen plenty of wombats during the day (more, even, than kangaroos, wallabies and geese), which had been pretty amazing; this one was skulking amid the dead trees on the point.


When I got back to Frenchs Farm it was dusk, and by the time I’d finished dinner it was dark and the kids were very early to bed. I knew that my own weariness and the dark and quiet would not be enough to allow me to go to bed at 8pm and sleep the night through, and so I stayed up for a while experimenting with some night photography.

The old shearing shed near the farmhouse has some interesting internal structure, and so I positioned my camera and tripod, set it to run a 30 second exposure, and “painted” the space with light from my torch. I’m quite happy with the end result.


And although the night wasn’t perfectly clear, the arc of the Milky Way was clearly visible, and so I thought I’d experiment with some sky photography as well. I still need to find the infinity focus sweet spot, but I quite like the idea, if not the execution, of this shot of the kids’ tents.


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