Location: Manning Valley
Date: March 2009
March 20, 2009. Right, what does a country town airport look
like? I went to Taree Airport today to take a few pics of a REX
(Regional Express Airlines) Saab 340. It's Friday, so there are
3 landings and 3 departures. Not quite Heathrow or JFK but, hey, this is
Taree folks! While I was there, one light aircraft landed and one taxied
for take off. Busy, busy, busy.
However, despite Taree being a laid-back country town, security is still
pretty high. The entire area is fenced which meant I had very limited access
- the old poke the lens through the bars trick. AND... use the zoom. There
was no way I was permitted to get anywhere near the aircraft... or even
out of the main building for that matter. I asked at the front desk (when
someone finally arrived) and I was given the big no, no, no. The bloke
also cast a suspicious eye over my monopod which was under my arm hehe.
"Is that a rifle?" "Yes, and if you're not nice to me I'll shoot you."
Anyway, I managed to get a few shots - nothing too thrilling. I also
took a pic or two of the Manning River Aero Club and was pleased to see
that they provide timber rails to tie horses to. No troughs though... but
there's a pub across the road. "One schooner of Victoria Bitter and a bucket
of the same please." "How old is the horse?" "Seven." "Sorry mate, can't
I have to say, though, that the Saab
340 is a very nice looking plane. Click
here for the photo album.
March 15, 2009. Yes,
the Ides of March - Julius Caesar beware.
But today, down at the Manning River, it's the location for the
Dragon Boat regatta, with crews from up and down the coast competing
for the major prize. I really didn't expect so many people! I drove along
the road that runs parallel to the river where parking was impossible (2
hours after events started at 9am). Then I turned into the
parking area thinking, "there's no way I'll get a spot in here." But I
There were two reasons I visited the event. 1) It was an excuse for
a bit of color and movement and something to photograph, and 2) I wanted
to try out the Fuji Finepix. I wasn't disappointed... the camera performs
very well. There are a couple of things I gotta get used to, though...
like resting my thumb on the damn zoom hehe.
And it was hot. Bloody hot! Perfect weather for a regatta... hardly
a breath of wind, clear blue sky, and the Manning looking magnificent.
So did all the boats, as well as the crews.
The same four boats are used for all races - it's the crews that do
the winning or losing. Most of the finishes I saw were excitingly close...
some down to a photo to determine the winner. I heard the announcer say
at one stage that the difference between first and second in one particular
race was some thousands of a second.
However, unless you're involved with a particular crew, all races look
the same, so I didn't stay long... just long enough to get some general
shots of the action and the atmosphere. The crop of the kid sticking his
oar into the dragon's mouth was something I hadn't noticed until I got
home and checked out the pics on the computer. Kids... they're all the
same. That crop represents only a very small part of the original pic,
so I'm quite impressed with the quality of the Fuji. But not so impressed
with my inattention to horizons and keeping them STRAIGHT! Dangit.
Anyway, it seemed to me that everyone present was having a wonderful
time on a wonderful day, enjoying - dare I say it? - a wonderful spectacle.
here for the photo album.
March 8, 2009. Back to Nabiac, about 15 minutes drive
south along the Pacific Hwy from Taree. Initially I headed out to
the (Taree) Airport Tavern Hotel where a collection of classic
and vintage motorcycles was supposed to be on display. "Oh, you should
have been here yesterday, mate!" said a drinker at the bar. "There were
some fantastic bikes here." Thanks very much... just what I needed to hear.
The event was the 20th Taree & District Classic and Vintage Motorcycle
Club's Annual Rally.
Then a bloke on a Triumph showed up and I asked him about the bikes.
"They changed the itinerary, mate. They've all gone to Nabiac for the swap
meet. I've just come back from there." While he was backing up his ute
to carry the bike, I took a few pics of the Bonneville 750. Lovely looking
bike... a 1977 vintage (six years younger than Tough Titties). The owner's
name is David Purdon. I know that because he gave me a booklet listing
all the bikes and years of manufacture.
BTW, David was smart enough to ride his bike onto a raised landing which
was about the right height to wheel the Trumpy onto the ute tray. Clever
when I got to Nabiac, guess what? Yep, all the bikers were preparing to
leave. I had to rush around and take as many pics as poss in about half
an hour before they all vanished. One of the riders was the "pink lady".
She was having trouble silencing the alarm on her Harley Davidson. Predictably,
blokes came from everywhere to rescue the damsel in distress. Eventually,
someone figured out a solution and she was on her way... but not before
she posed for a pic (045).
As I photographed the Ducati (038-039) I overhead someone ask the owner
how much he paid for it. "26," he said. So I thought for a moment and asked,
"How many zeros after the 26?" "Three... $26,000." Whoa! For a bike? He
was bitching about the fact that it chews a lot of juice. "It's got twin
fuel pumps," he explained. "But it's quick." Yeah... I got the impression
that it's VERY quick.
I spoke to another rider sitting astride his Harley (034) and, wondering
if it was a vintage model, asked him how old it was. "Just over a year."
Oh... well, there ya go... I wouldn't know one bike from another. So then
I asked him if it was meant to be a retro style. "Nope, that's just the
way I built it." That's the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it... "You
built it?" "Yep."
The only bloke there with a PROPER biker beard owns a Suzuki 1400 (021,
022, 023). He paid something like about 12 or 13 thousand for his. He prefers
air-cooled, the old fashioned way. It's a 2008 model. Nearby was a 2005
model, almost identical. Anyway, he's happy with his bike and the price
he paid. He told me that one manufacturer (can't remember which one) had
released a bike with a 2.4 liter engine. He says it's ridiculous, and I
So what did I miss out on? Lots... a couple of mid-50s BSAs and a Norton,
a 1951 Vincent, a 1914 750 Rover, a 1939 Matchless, a 1915 1000 Indian,
a 1939 Ariel, a 1920 Douglas to mention just a few. "You shoulda been here
yesterday, mate." Click
here for the photo album.
March 6, 2009. Back to the Manning Art Gallery for another
exhibition... this time "Wheels on Fire", a bunch of paintings and
scuptures that represent automobiles and motor bikes through the eyes of
various artists. There's no doubt that motor vehicles have revolutionised
personal travel, and have themselves become objects d'art.
When I arrived at the gallery, I explained to the lady in charge that
I'd been there a couple of times before and that I photographed exhibits
in such a way as to protect copyright. She was very pleasant, but decided
to check anyway. She took my card and went to the computer room. She was
quite impressed with the web site and asked if I'd done all the work myself.
*Blush* "Yes, it's all my own effort."
At first, I thought the Kawasaki motor cycle was real, and I had to
do a double-take. The wheels and tires are real, and I assume the basic
frame holds them in place, but the rest of the bike is made of papier-mache
and aluminium foil. Quite an amazing piece of work.
I don't for a moment pretend to understand "art", but I do find that
kind of artistic expression interesting... to see the result of a creative
person's imagination. One piece I found particularly fascinating (although
it's not part of the exhibition) was the whipcracker on horseback. That
entire thing is made from old discarded barbed fencing wire, which just
goes to show that any material in the hands of an artist has the potential
to be transformed into something of wonder and beauty.
Anyway, let the works speak for themselves. Click
here for the photo album.
March 2, 2009. Okies, this is the follow-up shoot to the one
I did at Stebercraft, Taree last Friday, Feb 27 (Journal 0017).
On Friday and over the weekend, the Steber 4700 underwent its finishing
touches before the launch today.
I arrived just before 2pm, and chatted with the driver of the Mack truck
which would tow the boat through town to the Manning River near
the Rowing Club. Country Energy was on hand to oversee the lifting of power
lines as the boat passed slowly underneath - and to be on hand should anything
go wrong. It's a pretty tricky exercise, and a slow one. It certainly attracted
the curious gazes of onlookers as the convoy passed through the streets.
The driver is a true-blue Aussie... bent hat, ciggie dangling from the
lips, and full of stories about past exploits. He learned to drive on a
tractor when he was a kid on a local farm. He got his truck license not
long after that, back in '63. "Can you back it up the street?" "Yep." "Can
you turn it around 180?" "Yep." "Do you know how to secure a load?" "Yep."
"No worries... sign here."
He said the Steber was about 6 meters high on the trailer, which equates
to about 20 feet. But what really got me was when he asked if I owned the
boat. "Me? Own it? Yeah, right... like, sure, it's all mine." Jeez, that'll
be the day.
Macks are big trucks, but the Steber made it look pretty small. We spoke
about the size of the boat before we left the factory. "I've done a few
of these jobs," the driver said, "and you'd be surprised how small the
boat looks once it's in the water. It looks like a toy." Well, maybe a
big toy, but floating in the vastness of the Manning River certainly has
a way of diminishing the craft's size in comparison to what it looks like
in the factory, or on the back of a trailer.
The entire exercise went smoothly, and pretty soon about a third of
the Steber's height disappeared below the water line. Once again, I'd like
to thank Glenn Dunbier, Stebercraft's production manager for providing
me with this opportunity to photograph a relatively rare event. I very
much appreciate it. Click
here for the photo album.
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