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.
August 2020
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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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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