The return of Slideshow Bob

Wave Rock selfie

Welcome to Bob and Laurel’s truly excellent slideshow of Western Australia and all the States and Territories we went through to get there (and back). Come on in and find yourselves a seat – you two can sit over there, Fred can sit here and Mary thanks for coming and sorry to hear Trevor has a cold. Now tonight’s show, just so you know, will go for about nine hours, but the good news is we’ll have a supper break, a midnight snack, frequent comfort stops and breakfast.
This second slide needs some explaining – Laurel took it through the windscreen. Admittedly it’s a bit fuzzy, but there is a cat in there… Unlike last year, that’s the only feral cat we spotted, but we needed a photo because I wrote a song about feral cats. Oh you didn’t know? It’ll be on my new album, out soon!
As you might have gathered, we’re home, and I’m talking to trees again. She Who No Longer Watches ABCNews24 (hereafter referred to as Ed. for the sake of brevity), plans to select her ‘Top 10’ photos once she downloads and goes through the 8,000 or so images. All I know about the 9,000-odd photos and videos that I took is that I will need to be very disciplined and employ my hard-earned editing skills (writers call it “murdering your darlings”). We both became keen twitchers (bird-watchers), on our three month sojourn, so there are at least 12 photos of every bird that caught our eye, even the everyday Willy Wagtail.
This particular Willy Wagtail followed us wherever we went. Even when we pulled into the driveway of our friend’s place at Warwick on the penultimate afternoon of the journey, there was Ms Wagtail, flitting about, harassing other birds and generally singing its merry little song that somehow reminds me of the song “Baby I’ve been watching you”. The Wagtail (and its Kiwi cousin the Fantail), are said to be messengers or spirit guides by the indigenous cultures of Australia and New Zealand. Just thought you’d like to know that.
Ah, the photos (some of which have already ended up on Facebook). There are so many wondrous vistas, close-ups of wild flowers, peerless sunsets, verdant gorges, wind-tossed deserts and wide open spaces, our friends are surely expecting a home-made calendar in the mail for Christmas.
Today’s technology is a long way from the old-fashioned slide evenings of our childhood. Someone would come over with a slide projector, one of those round cartridges that holds 300 slides and a suitcase full of 35mm colour slides. Mum would pin a sheet to the wall and we would all be herded into the living room where Dad had the kero heater going, puffing away on his Capstans. It was a struggle to stay awake through what seemed like hours of happy snaps from Harry’s two weeks in Japan at the 1964 Olympics.
“Now this is my favourite shot – there’s Peter Snell (record-breaking middle distance runner), leading the NZ team around the arena.” Taken with an Instamatic from seat 73, row 110 on the eastern stand looking into the sun. (New Zealand won three gold medals in Tokyo. Just thought you’d like to know that, too).
Now that we have all this amazing digital photo technology, it’s a shame not to use it as often as possible. We tried to be groovy old folks and took a few selfies (see opening photo at Wave Rock in Western Australia).
We noticed some people cheating – taking selfies with extendable kits – a monopod arm and a shutter release cable. Our preferred method is to chat to people who are admiring the same scenery and ask them to take a photo. Or you can prop your camera on a rock, set the 10-second auto button then run back into the picture. In most of those photos I look like a bloke who has suddenly discovered his fly is not done up.
We went on a steam train excursion in South Australia – from Quorn in the lower Flinders Ranges to a hamlet called Woolshed Flat. Whenever the train went around a bend, everyone would rush to the other side of the carriage and stick their heads, elbows and cameras out the window.
The typical photo is like this one (left) – mostly other people’s heads. It hardly seemed worth the risk of getting cinders in your eyes. The best photos and videos of this particular excursion, of course, were those taken by the people stopped at level crossings who waved as we chuffed our way up the next hill.
I chatted to a fellow passenger from Melbourne who was on the last leg of what Grey Nomads call “the lap”. Like me, she had taken thousands of photos and at this late stage of the game was a bit burned-out and was having a rest from the camera.
“What’s the point,” she said with a sigh. “When you get home the only people interested in looking at them are us.”
It did not escape our attention that taking photographs of landmarks and scenery is a low priority for people who are travelling the country on some sort of a mission. They rely on their support crew to document their journey.
The Black Dog Ride is a 32-day, 14,500 kms circumnavigation of the country by 65 bike riders who share the founder’s passion for raising awareness of depression and suicide prevention. This well organised adventure has raised more than $1.6 million for mental health services over the years.
Then there was the intrepid group of over-65s riding 50cc scooters from Port Augusta to Perth to raise money for Beyond Blue, an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of depression and suicide in Australian communities. The Scootarbor Challenge has so far raised more than $50,000 for Beyond Blue. The participants stop every 70kms or so and swap riders, probably a good idea as the day we saw them outside Ceduna, they were about to ride into strong head winds.
We also came across a group of 40 men and women riding 110cc ex-postie bikes from Brisbane to Adelaide via Birdsville and remote desert roads, for no other reason than they thought it was fun. Members of this group pay about $5,000 for the privilege, which includes an ex-postie bike, all accommodation and support while en-route and a flight home. Riders are encouraged to donate their bikes to Rotary at the end of the ride.
The above has renewed my resolve to delve into our documentary material and prepare a summary of our journey. It may well be this time next year before it’s done. It will probably include this photo taken on a timer when we arrived at the Welcome to Queensland sign on the NSW side of Goondiwindi. (Run, it’s flashing!)Welcome to Qld

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