Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.
I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.
I hope you enjoy scrolling through my blog. To visit other pages, please click on the tabs above, or go to my Blog Archive on the side bar. Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of any of my posts. I value your messages and look forward to hearing from you.If you like my work, and would like to buy a print, or commission me for some work, please go to my "contact me" tab.
Thank you for visiting my blog and helping me "step into the light".

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Monday, 31 August 2009

The Ancient Land of Purnululu, Western Australia




Cathedral Gorge is well named. Entering its immense towering cavern is like entering a magnificent natural cathedral, a place steeped in time and history. The red and orange sandstone walls tower above you, and the white sand crunches softly underfoot. Tiny tracks from night time animals can be seen going across the sand to the central pool which sits still and undisturbed like a mirror. It is a place for hushed voices and to sit quietly with your own thoughts. If you come early in the morning, as we did, you can enjoy the peace undisturbed. It has the atmosphere of a holy place, a sanctuary 


Cathedral Gorge is just one of the magnificent gorges within the Purnululu National Park (also known as the Bungle Bungles) in the Kimberley region in Western Australia’s far north west. Given World Heritage listing in 2003, Purnululu is one of Western Australia’s newest and most spectacular National Parks.



In the Kija Aboriginal language purnululu means sandstone. The Aboriginal people inhabited the region for thousands of years, however Purnululu was known only to a few Europeans until the mid 1980s.

How it received the name Bungle Bungles remains an intriguing mystery with several explanations including the corruption of the Aboriginal name Purnululu, or derived from the name of a common Kimberley grass, bundle bundle grass, or the ranges proximity to the old Bungle Bungle cattle station. 




Purnululu is located off the Great Northern Highway, 250km south of Kununurra, west of the WA/Northern Territory border. There is a 53 kilometre unsealed road only accessible by 4WD and offroad campers from the Highway, through Mabel Downs Station to the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) Rangers / Visitor Centre and roads are unsealed throughout the Park.
You should allow approximately 2-3 hours for the 53 km drive in (approximately 5 hours total travel time from Kununurra).


You can also read more about Purnululu on my blog post here -  

 Sunset over Spinifex in World Heritage Purnululu 


  
and my articles in  November 2011 edition of On The Road Magazine. 


Monday, 10 August 2009

The Gibb River Road - Gorging on gorgeous gorges along the Gibb - Kimberley, Western Australia


The Gibb River Road is hot and dusty – they call it “bull dust”. It swirls around and is so fine it seeps into your car, up your nose and into your mouth. You can taste it. The first part of the road coming from Kununurra is grey dust, so fine it has the colour and taste of cement dust. When a vehicle passes the dust swirls around in a cloud so thick you can’t see one metre in front of you until the dust settles.

Later on the road turns to orange red dust and stretches straight ahead into the distance as far as you can see.

Added to this are the corrugations. For those who don’t know what corrugations are – think of corrugated iron but change the substance to gravel and rock as hard as concrete and then imagine driving over it. It is a bone shaking experience that feels like it is trying to shake the car to pieces, everything rattles, including your bones.

There are also gullies and potholes that loom up in front of you, and the possibility of spiking a tyre on the sharp rocks that the grader has turned up. The condition of the road is dependant on when it was last graded so it can vary from very good to very bad. The best time to travel is from April to November, once the creek levels have dropped after the summer “wet” and it is recommended to carry two spare tyres, extra water, food and fuel.

Why would anyone want to travel this dusty bone shaking road? Because “The Gibb” catches the imagination of travelers as it is one of the few remaining remote 4WD treks and the scenery and the gorges are spectacular.

Originally built for large road trains transporting cattle from isolated stations to ports in Derby and Wyndham, the Gibb River Road, which is unsealed for most of its length, stretches 665km from just south of Derby to just west of Kununurra in Western Australia’s Kimberley.

Travelling from Kununurra the turn off onto the Gibb is 53 kilometers from Kununurra on the Great Northern Highway. The best way to experience the road is to travel from gorge to gorge camping overnight in bush camps along the way. You can swim at most of the gorges and camp nearby – both a welcome relief from the road conditions and the heat. The waterfalls are at their best early in the season.

Click on the boab photo opposite (World is Round - Western Australian images) and go to my link in "World is Round" to see some more photos.

This full article can be read in "On the Road" magazine, February 2010 edition.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Denmark - Where the Forest Meets the Sea - Western Australia south coast


“Surely there can be no greater cathedral than forests such as those of the karri” Vincent Serventy, noted Australian naturalist, as written on the “Wilderness Wall of Perceptions” at Swarbrick in Walpole.


Walking through the beautiful Harewood Forest along the banks of the Scotsdale Brook near Denmark on Western Australia’s south coast, it is difficult to imagine its past. The Karri trees tower straight and tall above you, forest flowers bloom in profusion and the sound of bird song fills the air. It is a peaceful world. The trickling brook and picnic tables invite you to linger and spend time enjoying the forest.


Interpretive signage along the walk tells us that the Harewood Forest Conservation Area is a pocket of forest that has regenerated after being clear felled by hand with axes and cross cut saws as part of a 20,000 acre timber lease acquisition by Millar’s Timber and Trading Company in 1895. At its peak, two trainloads of sawn Karri timber per day were sent to Albany for export all over the world. Karri blocks were used to pave streets in London. After 10 years of intense logging all the usable timber was used. The mill closed in 1905 and Denmark was only saved from demolition by the petitioning of locals.


During the 1920’s Western Australia offered free land to settlers from the United Kingdom under the group settlement scheme. Fifteen settlements were set up in the area, one of them in the Harewood area. However many of the immigrants had no background in farming or living in primitive conditions and by 1930 70% of the settlers had left the Group Settlements. For those who remained the life was tough.


That history is in the past and Denmark is now a thriving, diverse community with a friendly, relaxed feel, which attracts visitors to its vineyard covered hillsides, towering wilderness forests, spectacular coastline, pristine beaches, scenic drives and walk trails which showcase the natural beauty of Denmark.


Situated 52 kilometres west of Albany and 66 kilometres east of Walpole on Western Australia’s south coast, Denmark is attractively located on the banks of the Denmark River which flows into Wilson Inlet and then into the Southern Ocean.


Denmark’s mild climate makes it the perfect place to base yourselves. There are five caravan parks close to Denmark, one of which is conveniently located at the river mouth. There are also many cottages, chalets, farm stays, and bed and breakfasts.


Denmark is a place to relax and take time out. Canoe down the Denmark River, relax in the calm waters of Greens Pool, explore a heritage trail, take the Mt Shadforth Scenic Drive or climb Mt Lindesay for magnificent views across farmland to the ocean, visit craft and art galleries and the growing number of wineries, enjoy a platter of fresh local produce, spend the afternoon fishing, or just lay under the trees on the river bank, the choice is all yours.


To read this complete article see it in "Go Camping Australia" magazine, Spring 2009 issue.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Ningaloo Reef and the Coral Coast, Western Australia

Blue, so bright and crystal clear it is startling. Its warmth envelopes me, calm and soothing as I float in another world, weightless. Floating with the current, absorbed by the sights around me I can only hear the sound of my own breathing.

Fish swim around me in shoals, parting and reforming, flashes of silver in the sunlight. Tiny tropical fish in a myriad of colours and patterns dart around their coral gardens. A clam sits open mouthed awaiting its catch.

I am snorkelling in the warm waters of the Ningaloo Reef in the Cape Range National Park at North West Cape, halfway along the Western Australian coast. I am close to the shore in only a few metres of water and for someone like me who has never dived and rarely snorkelled, the underwater experience is amazing, and goes to show that nearly everyone can experience the reef.


The Ningaloo Reef which stretches 260 kilometres along the coast and covers 5,000 square kilometres, is the jewel of Western Australia’s Coral Coast. It is one of the largest fringing coral reefs in the world, home to 250 species of coral and 500 species of fish and a prime conservation and sanctuary area as well as one of Australia’s great nature based tourism locations.

It is also one of the few places where you can swim with the world's biggest fish, the Whale Shark which visits Ningaloo Reef from late Mark until July each year following the mass spawning of coral.

This complete article can be read in "Australian Coast & Country" magazine, Edition 1, 2009.
 

Monday, 9 March 2009

Salvatore Bellini - Cefalu, Sicily



The mournful strains of accordion music drift slowly up through the filtered early morning light and seeps into my consciousness. I turn over and pull around me the delicious folds of the feather quilt. The music is a sound I hear every morning. It wakes me gently with its soft kiss.

I stretch, and rising, walk across the cool tiled floor to fling open the window, and leaning out turn my face towards the crisp sea air; it’s salty moisture coming to me on the gentle breeze to settle on my face. Along the waterfront I can see the old man sitting on his stool in his usual place in front of the high stone wall. I cannot see his face, as it is hidden by the shadow of his cap, but I know his lined face looks as worn as the open leather suitcase by his side.


Salvatore Bellini. Every morning he cycles his bike along the winding cobbled streets through Cefalu and takes up his position here on the waterfront. As he plays he looks longingly out across the water. He is playing for the love of his life Antonella, who was lost in the sea between Italy and Sicily during the dark days of the last war: and perhaps in the hope his music will bring her back to him.

I had rented an apartment for the summer in the medieval town of Cefalu on Sicily’s north coast and had met Salvatore on the day that I arrived. Drawn by the music I had followed the sound and found him. As he played his haunting tune he was gazing out to sea with such a look of yearning in his blue eyes that a tear had escaped unbidden from my eyes. And at that instant he had looked up at me and smiled.

Travel Writing and Photography Course - Fremantle, 7-8 March 2009
Last weekend I attended a travel writing and photography course run by writer John Harman, and photographer Dale Neill. The piece you read above - Salvatore Bellini - is an entirely fictitious piece I wrote from the photo you see of the accordian player taken by Abigail Harman. To log onto John, Dale and Abigail's sites please refer to my web links.

Crepes in Fremantle



With a practised hand Antoinette ladles the creamy batter onto the sizzling plate. At the window a young girl sits transfixed watching her swirling the mixture evenly into a thin round circle and then flipping it over with a long spatula.

Antoinette smiles at the girl and the smile lights up her face. Every weekend at the markets she stands here before the steaming hot stone pouring, smoothing and flipping to create the crepes that will make their way into the mouths of the gathering crowd: the creperi has a reputation for good food and people are willing wait.

It is a long way from Antoinette’s village in Tuscany and the well scrubbed wooden table in her grandmother’s kitchen and the young girl reminds Antoinette of home. She smiles to herself and softly speaks a few words in Italian.

The Fremantle markets attract hundreds of people every weekend. They come for bargains, fresh fruit and vegetables, a special gift perhaps. It is a vibrant hive of bustling life, colour, sights, sounds, smells and languages. A moving kaleidoscope.

For Antoinette it is the start of a new life far away from her homeland.

The character is entirely fictitious, but to taste delicious crepes please visit Michelle's Crepe Suzettes at the Fremantle Markets Saturday's and Sundays.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Fitness Focus - Dragon Boating


Dragon boating has been a huge part of my life and my family's life since I joined a crew in Bunbury early 1990. I enjoy the fast pace and high energy of the sport, as well as the social side of it. Ideally you need 16-20 people to paddle a boat, so it is a great way to meet people. When I first started I never imagined that I would dragon boat at an international competition - but I did so in Hong Kong, Macau and Penang.


But what is dragon boating? Click on the Forza Dragon Boat tab opposite to find out more about the sport and my club and to read other articles I have written about the sport , including the full version of this one which I wrote for Perth Vita magazine, published March 2009...........


DRAGON BOATING...........


It’s exciting, colourful, explosive, high energy, and adrenalin fuelled and dragon boat racing is getting people fit and fired up across Australia.


What is dragon boating?

Dragon boating began in China as an occasion to drive off evil spirits and pestilence, to find peace and to supplicate the God of Water to prevent disaster and bring good fortune. The festival was later enriched by the legend of poet Qu Yuan in 296BC during the Chou dynasty.


It is now one of world’s fastest growing sports and it is sweeping across 55 countries around the world.

Up to 20 paddlers per crew, both men and women, sit in pairs side by side in a 12 metre long, 1.2 metre wide boat, paddling with woo

den, plastic or kevlar paddles, and steered by a sweep using a long oar. A drummer sits on the front and beats the time on a drum. The boat is decorated with a dragon head and tail. Races are usually held over 200, 500 or 1000 metres although longer races do occur.


The sport is explosive, high energy, adrenalin charged and exciting as the boats charge down the course, crews urged on by their sweeps, water flying from paddles, drums banging, only split seconds separating the lead crews.





Friday, 23 January 2009

African Experience - Soft Option

There are two intros to this African Experience - which one do you like best.......... 



Relax..........
Perfect luxurious quietness. A soft breeze rustles the leaves of the Jackalberry Trees accompanying a bird’s song. A herd of impala graze in the long dry grass, their gentle faces looking up to stare at me. A pair of young warthogs chew on the sweet green grass near our hut. In the distance the clink of glasses, the splash of water in the pool, and happy laughter. I nestle further into my deckchair, enjoying the tranquillity.

It’s mid afternoon on another idyllic day at Jackalberry Lodge, and I am sitting on the veranda of our hut, looking out across the grass to the bush beyond. Soon I will rouse myself, collect my camera, and go to join the others for afternoon tea before going on our evening game drive. But not just yet.

We’re staying at Jackalberry Lodge in the Thornybush Game Reserve, which spreads over 65 thousand acres, near Kruger National Park in South Africa, one of Africa’s premier game viewing areas. Whether you want peace and relaxation, the bush experience, or are here to see the animals and take photos, honeymooners, couples and families, young and old, all can enjoy the African bush experience at Jackalberry. 


OR - Adventure.........

Suddenly he was in front of us. His massive grey bulk emerged, ears flapping, from behind a thorn bush. Amazing how something so big could be so well hidden by a few bare twigs.  He pawed the earth with his foot and shaking his head, crashed through the thorn-bush towards us, stopping 10 metres from our vehicle.

Lifting his trunk he tested the air and then showered us with a cloud of sand.  Ndlobu, the elephant.

The elephant crossed the track in front of us, and faced us again, still pawing the ground and flapping his ears menacingly.  He tested the air again with his trunk, leant his weight against a small tree bending it over, then trampled on a broken off tree stump.  Grant, our guide, said the elephant was demonstrating his strength to us. 

Mario, our native tracker, calmly sat on the front of the vehicle, a bemused expression on his face.

When our guide Grant, moved our vehicle slowly down the track, the elephant immediately came onto the track, following us and quickening his pace to a trot.  As the vehicle pulled away, the elephant stopped, and threw up one last cloud of sand.  Flapping his ears, he clearly believed he had won.  












 












It was only one of the many incredible experiences we had during our stay at Jackalberry.  I cannot begin to describe the feeling you have when a lion at close quarters stares directly into your eyes.  You just have to become submissive and look away.  You cannot hold that intense gaze.   

We travelled to Africa and stayed at the Jackalberry Lodge at the Thornybush Game Reserve near Kruger National Park in September 2002. Our hosts Grant, Angie and Noleen gave us an incredible experience we will never forget.

Read the "relax" edition of this story in Australian Vital magazine May 2004, or for the story with the elephant intro read Australian Photography-Back page November 2004