JAMIE NICOLAOU

I was fortunate to cross paths with Jamie Nicolaou while we were in Western Australia. Jamie is the son of  long time friends we stayed with near Manjimup. He has an amazing passion for photography, a great eye for a good shot and a humble attitude to his wealth of knowledge.

It was inspiring to go out with Jamie and watch as he shot a panorama of the family farm just as the light faded to dark. I then followed him through the process of turning it into the image you can see on his blog. The incredible thing about this image is that it’s resolution is high enough to produce a print measured in meters not centimeters!

Check out Jamie’s blog http://jamienicolaou.wordpress.com/

…and his website http://actionpics.com.au

Jamie Nicolaou – Photo by Tegan Studsor

ACROSS THE NT BORDER

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Approaching the NT border towards Docker River, the country changes into a series of spectacular ranges.  Reading Herbert Basedows 1903 journal of exploration through this area made it all the more fascinating. There were no tracks and the journey took him 8 months with a team of 18 camels.

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All along the Great Central Road are herds of wild camels. This old fellow was standing under a shady tree just outside Docker River.

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Approaching the NT WA border through a cracked and bug splattered windscreen.

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We camped the first night back in the Northern Territory between sandhills with a great view of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas).

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Ayers Rock (Uluru) is an awesome sight. Photos are useless, it is so massive – the only way to appreciate it is to visit it.

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These strange characters, walking up to a viewing platform near Kata Tjuta, wore bags over their heads to annoy the flies!

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Around 50 kilometers east of Uluru is Mt Connor. It is like the poor cousin to Uluru, given just a passing glance thanks to it’s famous neighbour.

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I climbed to the top of a high sandridge to get a photograph of Mt Connor. In the distance to the north I could see a large salt lake half filled with water. An unusual sight in Central Australia.

We traveled East to the Stuart Highway then turned South through gathering storm clouds to South Australia.

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CAMEL IN WATERHOLE

The Great Central Road skirts the Gibson and Great Victoria Deserts so water is pretty scarce. There are, however, a number of rockholes with permanent water scattered throughout the region. Whenever we saw one marked on the map we would seek it out with the aid of a GPS.

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Some we found contained the bones of camels.

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As we approached one of these waterholes we spotted a dingo running away. We didnt think much about it until we reached the hole and found this poor old camel trapped and struggling.

A steel frame covering the hole to keep animals out had somehow been collapsed and pushed aside

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He was exhausted and badly cut from fighting to extract himself.

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If we left him he would have soon become a meal for the dingoes. We decided to try and pull him out of the rockhole. The caravan was unhooked and the car moved close to the waterhole. I managed to throw a rope over his neck and pull a snatch strap around him.

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With the car in low range we slowly hauled him out. I expected him to lay there for a while recovering but as soon as I undid the shackle attaching the rope to the car he jumped to his feet, shook himself, then took off.

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He was last seen disappearing into the desert with a snatch strap and rope. I followed him for  five minutes expecting the rope to fall off, but by that time he was half a kilometre away so I left him to it.  A good excuse to return and search for the strap one day.

GREAT CENTRAL RD WRECKS

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The Great Central Road runs from Laverton to Yulara, passing through the aboriginal communities of Cosmo-Newberry, Warburton, Warakurna and Docker River. The road takes in part of the old Gunbarrel highway to cover the 1500 kilometre distance.

Most of the road is good, graded dirt with a few stretches of corrugations and some sand drifts around Docker River. Apart from the great scenery, camels, birds and kangaroos, there are hundreds of wrecked cars scattered along the road. Here are a few victims of speed, fatigue, alcohol or neglect that caught our attention…

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GHOSTS OF GWALIA

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Gwalia, once the second biggest gold mining town in WA, is now almost deserted. The “Sons of Gwalia” mine closed in 1963 and the population of over 1500 disappeared overnight. The first mine manager, 23 year old Herbert Hoover, brought in cheap Italian labor to help make the mine profitable.  Hoover went on to become the 31st president of the USA. Most of the abandoned cottages built by the workers are still in good condition thanks to the hot, dry climate.

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Gwalia’s State Hotel was the first state owned pub in WA. Built to counter the sly grog trade in the town, it is a stark contrast to the makeshift dwellings of the workers.

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The Sons of Gwalia mine has since reopened and, judging by the size of the hole in the ground, must be doing fairly well.

KALGOORLIE / COOLGARDIE

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Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie are the two major towns in WA’s Southern Goldfields. They are both typical of the over the top gold mining towns of the late 1800’s. The banks, government buildings and, most noticeably, the pubs are all very impressive and contrast sharply with the humble dwellings constructed by the miners.

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One of the more spectacular gardens in Coolgardie relies less on water and more on discarded junk to keep it vibrant and attractive

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The main streets in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie are wide enough to land a jumbo jet on. Apparently they had to be that width to turn a camel train around.

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Frightening statue of man trying to turn around a camel train. – Coolgardie

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Interesting tall corrugated iron building – Coolgardie

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Attractive stone government building – Coolgardie

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Coolgardie RSL and Marvel Bar Hotel

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One of Kalgoorlie’s more spectacular hotels

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Exchange Hotel in the center of Kalgoorlie

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Metropole  Hotel in the Boulder district on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie

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Court Hotel – Boulder

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A couple of hundred kilometres north of Kalgoorlie things are a little less opulent. The Kookynie hotel is the only remaining business in town. The faded for sale sign on the wall suggest its days may be numbered.

MARGARET RIVER WORKSHOP

Our Accommodation for the first few days of the Margaret River Workshop was at the old Karridale  Homestead Complex. The homestead was built in the late 1800’s and moved to Margaret River in the early 1960’s. Motel style accommodation was later added, the homestead serving as a restaurant and conference room.

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Our first morning painting was in the comfortable courtyard of the Homestead.

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After going through all the techniques and materials I like to use everyone chose a small part of the courtyard and, using just two colors, concerntrated on composition and tonal contrast to squeeze as much out of their subject as possible.

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That afternoon we walked down to the river. The overcast sky illuminated the gatehouse on a small foot bridge. It was a great subject, but the chilly wind forced us to retreat around 4:30

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Next day we traveled down to the South West tip of WA to Cape Leeuwin where the Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean meet.

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We found a small sheltered beach and spent the morning painting the lighthouse and surrounding buildings.

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The old Post Office and general store at Witchcliff was closed down a few years ago and is slowly starting to crumble

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The interesting shapes and textures kept us busy painting for the afternoon

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A workshop in Margaret River wouldn’t be complete without painting in one of the wineries. We chose a windy hillside in Voyager Estate. The cold breeze and beckoning cellar full of excellent wines just up the path, meant the painting session finished fairly quickly.

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Voyager brought out some of their best wines for us to sample before sitting down to a great lunch in the dining room.

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After lunch we found an interesting door at the back of the winery.  A simple subject, great surroundings and the warm fuzzy feeling brought about by good food and wine made this a lot of fun to paint.

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The next day we traveled to Pemberton and the giant Karri forests of South West WA.

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After the windy weather near  the coast, the stillness of the Karri forests was a welcome change

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Vertical lines of the Karri trees descend into a chaotic mixture of bushes, ferns and flowers. The formal verticals and varied colorful textures make a great subject.

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The last three days of the workshop were spent at the Kari Valley Resort just out of Pemberton. You can hire a fishing rod and catch trout from your balcony.

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The resort is on the edge of Lake Beedelup. There are walking tracks around the lake and a suspension bridge over the spectacular falls

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We had our own private dining room perched over the lake.

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Our farewell dinner was a great night – Steak, Barramundi and local wine. It’s always sad saying goodbye to everyone but hopefully we will all catch up again sometime.

Many Thanks to Amanda Sloan, our tireless, hardworking tour guide, for making this such a great workshop