WCC Trip to Beechworth – Labour Day Long Weekend

The WCC had its Labour Day trip to Beechworth from 6th – 9th March 2009. the trip was a huge success eventually attracting 15 members. The text below was written by Dave Sumner and snippets taken from Peter & Jill Myers Blog. Pictures of the weekend can be viewed on the club image gallery.

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Friday 6th March 2009: The Journey There & the First Night.
It was around 11:00 and Rosie (my wife) and I set off to Beechworth via Swinburne University to buy our son, Phil’s books. It seemed a great idea at the time to incorporate this as we were going in that direction anyway. How wrong I was, after leaving Phil at about 12:15 it took us the best part of an hour to get to the Hume highway and I rest the blame squarely on Mr Garmin’s shoulders. Never follow your sat nav when it is set to the shortest route, go the way you know. At last on the Hume, we were making good time and we only slowed down to view the burnt out bush from the Kilmore fires. The smell of burnt wood filled the car and we sat in silence as we passed kilometre after kilometre of burnt out bush and fields. Being Poms we’d never really experienced anything like this and we were amazed at how many homes were still standing even though they were right in the middle of all the devastation. A credit to the CFA and the owners I think.
We carried on leaving the grey cloud and drizzle that was Melbourne behind and into the blue skies and a warm Beechworth where we arrived at The Old Priory around 4pm. Pete and Jill Myers had already arrived and were in Beechworth with their cameras having already scoped the joint. The others trickled in over the next few hours, the last to arrive being Pete Davies who had unfortunately had to work and couldn’t set off until around 6pm. Beechworth has a very old and deep gorge running through the middle of the town obviously created by a lot of running water. In these troubled times there was hardly a trickle of water in the gorge. We could see where the river would flow if there was water and the rocks were smooth where the waterfall would have been but I would guess it has not flowed for many years. Consequently the gorge became a rock climbing area for me and Pete. We thought the area may make for some spectacular sunset shots that evening, but unfortunately our view of the sunset proved to be totally obscured…not by clouds but by the walls of the pub we later adjourned to!
We’d arranged a meal and 8 of us met up in the Commercial Hotel to enjoy the rest of the evening’s offerings. I must admit that I don’t get out much these days and I did go a little mad with the beer, in fact I was kicked out at closing time with Pete as chaperone only to find when we got back that Craig had secured the Priory’s bar and a free wireless internet connection that was probably located in some poor unsuspecting neighbours house.
Saturday 7th March 2009: The Saturday
The next morning found us all in the breakfast bar and ready for a day’s shooting, all that is except Pete who was still nowhere to be seen. A quick check with Albert, who was sharing rooms with him, allayed our fears of him being in a ditch when he said that Pete was just getting up but wasn’t feeling well. After breakfast saw a group of us get together and decide to walk the entirety of the Beechworth Gorge scenic “drive”. From beginning to end this was a 10km walk, a fabulous chance to walk, chat with friends, stop for a picnic lunch, and take a few pictures. I must add that one of Waverley Bush Walking Club’s most active members, Fred, drove his car around. We won’t tell them Fred, honest.
Once we had completed the walk we decided to explore another of Beechworth’s famous attractions…it’s very own micro brewery! This was definitely Pete Davies’s idea, who was now feeling much better and using his powers of presidency to force us lower on the pecking order to go. So we all were reluctantly dragged kicking and screaming and retired to a shaded part of the brewery to sample the local fare and held a very impromptu committee meeting to talk about how to improve the club. Funnily enough the ideas got more and more radical as we sampled more and more of the brewery products! What I found peculiar was that after sampling 8 of this brewery’s beers to decide which I liked best, I went and ordered a schooner of Carlton Draught. Odd that!!!!
Saturday evening saw us at the pre arranged BBQ at the Priory’s gardens, with a group of about 8 deciding to finish the evening with a Beechworth dusk “Ghost Tour”, a 90 minute walk around the old Beechworth hospital and lunatic asylum. In Pete Myer’s own words “I learnt two very valuable lessons from this tour”:
1. Don’t waste my money on this tour again.
2. Remember my bloody tripod in future if I want to take night photography!
This night (or early Sunday morning) saw two serious and fearless photographers, Pete Davies and I set off into the darkness to carry out some night photography. We spent a lot of time trying to capture a good shot of the moon behind a cross on the roof of the Priory which turned out to be a lot harder to get right than you would imagine, damn thing kept moving. We then moved on and took some shots of the local church using painting with light techniques to light up the dark areas and shadows before the inevitable visit from the local constabulary to see what we were doing. “Taking Photographs” was heard from our lips as the boys in blue thought it was funny to paint the church in red and blue with their own lights. We moved on into the main street, standing in the centre of the road to get some street shots before moving on down towards the Old Post Office and the local drunks. Pete was photographing what he said was a MGA shot of some post boxes when four girls decided that he was shooting for FHM and jumped into his shot and did some unofficial modelling. Of course we ushered them away telling them that we didn’t like taking pictures of drunken girls. If you believe that then I can write whatever I like and you’ll believe that as well. After the girls photo session and their lift to the next party had arrived, we moved on to photographing the outside of the local bar before returning to the Priory at around 3pm for more coffee and some sleep.
Sunday 8th March 2009: The Trip Out
Sunday morning saw us departing as a group en masse for the nearby Myrtleford Festival and a local photography exhibition. We ALL agreed (as we would!) that the competition photos (and they were for sale) were no better and in fact a lot worse than the photography that we produce. Suitably self satisfied we set off to prove that to ourselves with a trip up Mount Buffalo. We decided to take the hike to the top of the “Hump” and the “Cathedral” both at the top of the mountain, two huge stone facades which dominated the landscape. It was a fair old climb but well worthwhile. We got some great shots of these two iconic rocks as well as the surrounding panoramic views. I even tried a full 360 degree panorama shot; with Pete in every image…I await with interest the outcome of this when I finally get time to do my Photoshop stitching! Also we exposed a fraud, the shot of ‘The Hump’ in Tuck’s Gallery offering is actually ‘The Cathedral’ and we spent a good while trying to take the same shot as tuck had done. He did take it in good heart even though Pete and I threatened to expose his error to the worldJ. After the climb we drove to Lake Catini on Mount Buffalo and had a very late afternoon picnic, enjoying the warm sun and the good company.
On the way back we stopped off at the site of the earlier bushfires, just to the South of Beechworth. For the first time we really got a sense of the scale and magnitude of these fires. Hundreds upon hundreds of hectares of land totally burned and occupied by a new eerie species of plant…dead trees with black trunks and brown leaves, growing in a scarred barren black and brown expanse…No photograph we could take could do justice to the scene…but we tried!
Sunday evening saw another group dinner at the same local pub before retiring for our final night stay at the Priory and yes I was the last to leave again with the other Pete this time.
Monday 9th March 2009: Labour Day
Monday morning saw the group depart in different directions for the journey home. Most said that they would be taking more shots of the bush fire affected areas before leaving. We had a long trip to Echuca before heading back to Melbourne so we left fairly early and enjoyed the scenery as the land flattens right off as you head further west. We had a brilliant weekend made special by everyone who attended which was: Peter & Jill, Tuck & Soo, Ron & Chris, Ross & Diane, Pete (President), Craig, Fred, Albert, John, Rosie & I. Thanks to you all for making it such a success.
Albert’s Comments: Fred and I came up the back way, over Eildon Weir, through Mansfield and Whitby then through Myrtleford to Beechworth. This route took us through kilometre after kilometre of burnt out forest and we even passed the Glenburn Pub, which just a heap of charred wood and twisted metal. This experience, more than all the graphic photos I have seen and the thousands of printed words I have read brought the bushfires home to me. The sheer scale of devastation literally had to be seen to be believed.
On a more cheerful note, as to the trip itself, I enjoyed myself immensely. I am not one who takes to small talk easily but everybody seemed to go out of their way to make everyone else feel comfortable and relaxed. On a personal level. I have to say that I struggled a bit to find photo opportunities but I enjoyed Mt Buffalo and I have attached a pic of a view from the Gorge which I was quite taken with, even if the pic may not do it justice.
Fred also went out of his way to give me the benefit of his experience in the area and I would have struggled a lot more without his help. He also showed me the Eldorado dredge, which is a fascinating relic of the alluvial gold mining days in the district from back in the 1930’s.
Pete’s Comments: I was the last to arrive in Beechworth on the Friday night and didn’t catch up with most people until the next day. Saturday was the highlight for me as we got to go back to Bridge Road Brewery and sample their rather tasty wares. It was a fantastic opportunity to sit around and get to know some of my fellow camera club members (and their partners) as I often don’t get the chance to even say hello at our regular meetings. Of course we talked about all things photographic but we also just chatted as friends. This conversation was continued back at the priory while we had a BBQ and for a couple of us (a certain newsletter editor and I) it even continued back out on the deserted streets of Beechworth long into the night. A thoroughly enjoyable day in what was a great weekend all round.
Christine & Ron’s Comments: For me and Christine, the Labour Day weekend means Camera Club outing. We have been going for about 15 years now, so we must enjoy them. These outings are not all about photography, Chris does not take photographs, but we do try to take a few photos. We usually get out into the bush and do some walking, maybe a BBQ, visit a pub or two and have a meal at a nearby restaurant. This visit to Beechworth had all of that. Here is one of my photos taken on the walk up Mt Buffalo from Lake Catani.