Saturday, 26 October 2019

Southern Flinders Ranges - Exploring South Australia

The amazing group at Smith's Farmstay Accommodation's 
There is a long story of how I ended up taking this amazing photography and light painting masterclass that was a part of the Southern Flinders Ranges Photography Festival. A festival aimed at promoting the regional beauty of South Australia and by also providing a platform for photographers to display their work, meet fellow photographers, be a part of the photographers' community and learn from each other.

So one fine Friday morning, I was standing in Adelaide City with some photography enthusiasts and great humans which I learned during the trip, to go on an adventure. I hopped on a 4WD coach by Explorer Coachlines and was pretty soon on the way to Port Pirie to have lunch and pick more people. Two and a half hours later I was in Port Pirie - a small town I have come to love. You can read more about it here 

There were another 10 people waiting there to join us and after lunch, this group of 20 photographers from different parts of Australia started a beautiful journey to explore and photograph Southern Flinders Ranges. The beautiful Melrose town was where we were to stay.

The booking was done by the organizers and thus the participants had absolutely nothing to worry about. One of the organizers and the founder of this festival and the photographer behind almost all the photographs in this post is married to me <3... Did I give away half of the story of how I ended up here? Trust me, there is more that I have saved for another time.

On the way to Melrose, we stopped at Mount Remarkable where everyone learned about photography with Mark Zed who was the mentor for landscape photography. I just posed for my husband. It was hot and sunny and the only unpleasant thing was.... flies... which we tried to keep away by spraying lots of Aeroguard. Loads of sunblock and loads of insect repellant is essential if you are planning your trip in spring/summer. This gorgeous site has walking and hiking trails surrounded by old trees and rocks giving plenty of nature for photographers to shoot and for people like me to admire.

Very early in my marriage - actually, on my honeymoon, I realized that being married to a photographer means they can stop just anywhere and most things that we easily ignore end up making a great photograph. Like a wheat field in the middle of nowhere or an abandoned brick structure... We stopped again...

After this, we checked into our accommodation which was in Melrose Caravan Park. Changed into dark-colored clothes, we had our dinner and left to find a place where the magical light painting class was to take place. This was real magic for someone like me who had never seen this before. In pitch dark where even a light blink of flash could ruin a photograph, we all gathered around an old brewery and learned what a beautiful art light painting is. Dark clothes because everything had to be dark.

If you want to learn more about the light painting you need to check out Denis Smith's page who was the mentor. It is real magic. I just sat in awe while every one created amazing paintings. Here is one of what my hubby took while Denis painted.

The next morning after breakfast we left for Bridle Track Lookout. It is a 4WD drive into the Flinders Ranges. When I stepped out of the coach to see this beautiful place I was honestly overwhelmed. I would never be able to explain how beautiful it was. Shades of greens as far as my eyes could see, blue of sea mixing with the blue of the sky on one side. Wind blowing away the wheat crops and all I could see was nature and all I could hear was nature. I can easily say that I will not forget the serenity of the place. It was rejuvenating.

Lots of photographs were taken... I could have stayed there the whole time if I had a stove to make chai ...

Photo credits: Jeff
When we came back, it was lunchtime. We had lunch, rested for an hour and then gathered again for what I think will be my second unforgettable adventure of this trip.

So, we all went to Alligator Gorge - thankfully only the name has an alligator in it and not the creek itself which is cut through ancient rocks. While we marveled at the beauty this earth has to offer, I was impressed by how in the corner of this world there existed this place equipped with picnic area, public toilets, and barbeque facility. I could not have imagined this to be so well maintained.

The only thing was that we were not to use the barbeque pit or picnic area but, we were there to do light painting as the rocks and trees provided a rich backdrop. After a steep hike down to reach the creek, we explored to find the perfect spot. Again in the dark, these passionate photographs worked till 10:30 in the night on a mission to go back home with at least one image that they could proudly share with the world.

The magic of light painting started as the moonlight became our only source of light. Snacks and jokes were shared, songs were sung and when we packed up to take the hike back up to where our bus was...  baggage was shared, hands held and I think it was a beautiful experience in every sense of the word.

Sunday was the last day and everyone was quite sad that this adventure was about to end. We checked out of the hotel and were to see the Wirrabara forest reserve which was established as a timber resource of South Australia. We also took a quick stop to see Silo art on the way which I posted on my page as well. We had lunch at a small bakery cafe.

The last stop was another amazing place where I will soon plan a holiday. You know when you see far off mountains while driving and a small house atop of it and wonder who lives there? I met a man who actually lived in such a house. Smith's Farmstay Accommodation's owner who was humble enough to let us see his farm, scare his goats and lama and answer a gazillion questions. You could see most probably the whole of South Australia from the top of his farm. Ignore my exaggeration... but even fifteen minutes driving into his farm he said that it was probably on the quarter of it! The best is that you can book accommodation there and experience living on a farm. Something I will definitely plan soon. 

This marked the end of our trip. The goodbyes were quite sad. I felt that I was in a different world on the weekend. I was dazed the next day at work because I had left a piece of my heart in the gorgeous ranges and I felt the need to go back soon. 

You know when I read John Muir's... 'mountains are calling you and you must go' ... it never made sense to me... 

until on this trip, I heard them ... 

See the whole festival here:

If you spot me in the video, see how religiously I made Insta-stories throughout :) 

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