Stony Creek Backwash, Urban reserve.

Stony Creek Backwash reserve 2020-03-30 13:58:15
Sitting at home yesterday, I noticed the light was very promising. I had recently seen a fellow photographers work in and around the base of the West Gate Bridge on flickr and decided to investigate the location. I eventually found this urban park created by Maribyrnong Council and the friends of Stony Creek Inc.. I was surprised I had not investigated this space earlier? I look down on it ofen as I traverse the West Gate Bridge. It has always fascinated me.

The Stony Creek Backwash Urban Reserve is a well looked after green spot adjacent to several oil storage facilities. Nestled between the facilities and the West Gate Bridge it is a pleasant oasis. The park had many people wandering and bike riding though in and around it, despite restrictions in place for the Corona Virus.

I arrived early in the afternoon and stayed until about 3:30 I spent the amount of time I did here because as a location seen from above, as I do so often, it appears intriguing. It is one of those places that has been though a series of uses. Despite some of which are detrimental to the vegetation. The vegetation bounced back. Walking through the space and reading the signage placed at various points gives a sense of what the community aspires the space to be. Closer examination may contradict this. Looking, and walking, beyond the established paths. it is apparent that while the vegetation is abundant it may not be as vibrant as expected. These kinds of spaces make me curious and are somewhat of a metaphor for my own existence. Both geographically and metaphysically.

In the end I spent several hours there only leaving around 3:30pm as the light had turned too harsh for my liking.

Pre-European settlement

Prior to dispossession three adjoining Koori clans probably used the area as a meeting place and for gathering food along its embankments and wetlands. The Koories managed the creek environment to ensure that these resources would be adequate for their needs and succeeding generations. Midden sites were recorded at the creek's mouth where the Koori's feasted on shellfish. Evidence of other activities in the region include stone tool sites, silcrete quaries, scarred trees and burial places.

The Stony Creek belonged to the Marin bulluk clan, who occupied the area between Kororoit Creek and Maribyrnong River. This clan was part of the Woi wurrung, the tribal group which owned most of Melbourne. Bungarin was the head man of the Marin bulluk clan. He was also a guardian of the famous axe quarry at Mt William. Bungarin's name appears as one of the 'chiefs' on John Batman's so-called deed of purchase.

European Heritage 

Stony Creek has a long and varied European history which has left a marked impression on the creek and its surrounds. The European heritage is summarised below and documented on the friends of stony creek website. A former Geocities webpage no less!

In the 1850s, Stony Creek was an important route for labourers heading upstream to quarries located north and south of the creek. Th labourers quarried bluestone which was used to supply material for some of Melbourne’s earliest public buildings such as Pentridge Prison and St. Paul’s Cathedral. The leftover bluestone, used as ballast, was collected by ballast lighters and delivered to sailing ships at anchor waiting in Hobsons Bay.

To accommodate the growing industries and local businesses around the Yarra River port, a multitude of industrial rail siding were established in the Spotswood aerate connect the railway terminals at Hobsons Bay. The sidings were constructed between 1880 and 1930 and served numerous purposes throughout these 50 years. Th speak period of use for the sidings was from the 1920’s to World War II.

In 1927, the branch railway sidings were utilised to serve the Newport Oil Wharf berths along the Yarra river. The branch railway sidings served Shell, BP, Ampol an other oil terminals between Hall Street and Douglas Parade, while a circuitous line looped from Yarraville round along the West Bank of he Yarra River, over Stony Creek via a trestle bridge then on to the Vacuum Oil terminal, now Mobil.

The majority of the railway sidings have been decommissioned and the track s Ince removed. Remnants of the old Branch Railway sidings can be found in the eastern side of the backwash, running parallel with the Yarra River.


December 1803 A party from the schooner Cumberland follows the creek for one and a half miles. "It was salt and ended in a swamp."
  • 1835 Batman searching for pasture drops anchor opposite Stony Creek backwash.
  • 1848 Creek briefly known as Murderer’s Creek after the discovery of Lucke’s battered corpse!
  • 1850s Quarries opened up for ballast and building
  • 1870s Noxious industries established: tannery, meat processing and glue works.
  • 1919 Alfred Luizzi drowns attempting to cross in a flood.
  • 1920s Market gardens established.
  • 1940s Urbanisation spreads.
  • 1970 West Gate Bridge collapses killing 35 workers.
  • 1987 Ink spill into backwash kills mangroves.
  • 1993 Friends of Stony Creek formed.
  • 2001 Allied Containers constructed a bridge across Stony Creek without regulatory approval and Meadow Lea spill.
  • 2002 Pivot Fertiliser Spill
  • 2006 Fire destroys revegetated area at Hyde Street Reserve
  • 2011 Stony Creek Future Directions Plan released
  • 2013 Detergent spill

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Borung, Victoria, Australia.

The abandoned primary school in Borung Victoria, Australia. [2019-10-19 17:01:12]
Late last year I managed a small day trip up into the Mallee in search of material for my psychogeography project.

I would have preferred to stay longer but overnight stays are tricky at the best of times. They are currently impossible with the pandemic.

I was impressed that there were still some houses occupied in this hamlet. There was a pub but not much else. And of course a wheat silo, also abandoned.

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What is a photograph?

"...For me, the essence of any photograph is the way in which it touches, whether that be physical, emotional, spiritual or otherwise. Nicholas Muellner, in his wonderful new book Lacuna Park, writes: A photograph is a surface for feeling. I think about that phrase a lot.
A photograph is also a question, a prompt, and an interface. A point where we the viewer meet and interact with the thing itself and its shadow. A transaction between body, imagination, environment. I think every photograph also has the capacity to exist as an afterimage, some more vivid and intense than others..."

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Reading this article today got me thinking.

Sketchbooks formed a formative part of my early career as a visual artist. Over the years technology and work kind of got in the way. I feel it’s time to reverse that trend. Now with cheap colour printers and a 200000 plus digital archive some interesting things may eventuate.

Watch this space.

I already have digitised some of my early visual diaries over on tumblr, but may not have finished?
A spread from a visual diary from about 1988

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Melbourne Art Book Fair 2020

As usual, the Melbourne Photobook Collective has a stand at the NGV’s Art Book Fair. The fair is an annual event, this year running from 12th of March to the 15th of March. This year I added one new publication, and a series of postcards. The new ‘publication is entitled ‘Body Bags & Other Misdemeanours’. It is a a 41 page stapled book with 27 photos printed on 100gsm stock. The postcards were abstracted fragments of torn advertising posters. Below are a selection of images from the book.

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Exhibition Reveiw

negative, Murrayville, Victoria by Gary Sauer-Thompson
The Malle Routes Exhibition I was invited to participate in over December 2019 and January 2020 had a review written by Adam Dutkiewicz, on his blog The Adam Dutkiewicz Archive

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Nature Boy: a Photobook by Brad Rimmer

Discovered on the Flakphoto Network on Facebook this morning.

Another book I'd like to buy.

"Nature Boy is a sequel to Australian photographer Brad Rimmer’s monograph Silence (2009). Probing at the essence of rural Australia and the emotional impact of the natural landscape upon individual psyches. Rimmer this time adds stories to the compendium. The raw, yet poetic narratives conjure the late adolescent years of a lad wrestling with whether to stay or leave his remote country homeland for the lure of the city and so much more. A coming-of-age account the elegant mix of observation and heartfelt reminiscence are almost autobiographical, and hint to the nascent sensibilities of the young Rimmer as an artist."
T&G Publishing — Our Books

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The winner will be announced at Photo London in May alongside an exhibition of the shortlisted books. The jury this year was comprised of Jörg Colberg, Ellis Jones, Joanna Piotrowska, Polly Fleury and Michael Mack.
More info on Mack's website

The shortlist is:- Andrea Alessandrini, Piccola Russia, Marta Bogdańska SHIFTERS, Maria Dabrowski Odsłonić , Deanna Dikeman Leaving and Waving: 90 Good-byes, Jonas Feige Stadt, Land, Fluss , Damian Heinisch 45, Miro Kuzmanovic Signs by the Roadside, Yura Kolomiets What is the corner looking at? , Nina Perlman
[Architects, Pigeons], Sara Vighi
Handbook of a Town

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I recently purchased a new tripod head. My Manfrotto is over 30 years old and has been driven over accidentally at least once. The original head had finally worn out a couple of years ago it then sat in the corner of my darkroom unused. I borrowed a smaller one with a geared head to replace it. I was so impressed with the head I decided to buy a new head for my 30 year old tripod. Earlier this year I replaced it and began using it again. I use it for both my Hasselblad and my 5 x 4 monorail camera.

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New Publications in 2020?

The annual Melbourne Art Book Fair at the National Gallery of Australia in St.Kilda road, is only a month away. I share a stand with the other members of the Melbourne Photobook Collective.

This year I am publishing a new book. A self published booklet entitled ‘Body Bags & Other Misdemeanours” It is a 42 page book printed on 100 gsm inkjet paper with 27 colour pictures, stapled in an edition of 5.

The book examines ways is which the human form is represented, or even misrepresented. It will be available on sale all weekend at the gallery.

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Books I'd like to buy.

 Day Sleeper Dorothea Lange – Sam Contis.
"A collection of pictures so contemporary in feel, it's difficult to reconcile them with the Lange we know" – Wall Street Journal Magazine
"Untethered from the heavy responsibility of telling the stories of people in dire situations, [these photographs] delight in the texture of cotton shirts and weathered hands, more ambivalent and playful than [Lange's] state-sponsored work. – The Independent
In this book Sam Contis presents a new window onto the work of the iconic American photographer Dorothea Lange. Drawing from Lange’s extensive archive, Contis constructs a fragmented, unfamiliar world centred around the figure of the day sleeper – at once a symbol of respite and oblivion. The book shows us one artist through the eyes of another, with Contis responding to resonances between her and Lange’s ways of seeing. It reveals a largely unknown side of Lange, and includes previously unseen photographs of her family, portraiture from her studio, and pictures made in the streets of San Francisco and the East Bay. Day Sleeper will be featured alongside other works of Contis’ in the exhibition Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures at the Museum of Modern Art, February–May 2020.
Day Sleeper Dorothea Lange – Sam Contis – MACK

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New Tumblr

Last month I started a new tumblr entitled 10 years ago today. The idea is to look at my digital archive each day, from 10 years ago. Pick a picture. Then upload one that still resonates with me. It was also 10 years ago that I bought a digital camera that had the potential to make large prints. I made several at a2 and a3 and one at over a meter on its longest edge from it.

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Millennium Man?

Millennium Man 2020-01-31 07:23:33
Sunshine Marketplace shopping centre has a statue made by Big Fish in Footscray called ‘Millennium Man’. Originally deigned to last 5 years, it was built and installed in the late 1990s. It has stayed in its current position outside the cinema complex to this day. It is currently fenced off. I hope it will be repaired and restored. More importantly I hope it is kept. My pc3020 tumblr has some pictures of it before restoration. I have a small flickr album of photographs of him as well.

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Quotes & the archive?

While pockets of the internet, ponder the future of flickr, I decided to deep dive into my own archive. In the process I found this gem of a quote from this picture:-
"I appreciate its historiocity, but it does little for me beyond its cognitive appeal."
The comment was from a friend and was a joke and part of a larger voting game DBOLRL. This camaraderie has long disappeared. Sadly. Still I enjoy seeing others work and engaging a little with them as well. Knowing that the pictures are displayed to their best and no feeding some advertising algorithm helps too.

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January Skies?

I have been taking advantage of the unusual weather patterns here in Melbourne at the moment. Usually summer means bright blue skies, not a cloud to be seen and heat. This was how it had been until a few days ago.  Combine this with a recent discussion I had with Gary in South Australia had me visiting some locations I don't often frequent, well enough anyway. Mainly because they don't fit into my ongoing project on Sunshine. Today of course was an exception as the clouds and skies were much more interesting than usual. I have spent quite a lot of time outside making pictures these last few days. Mostly digital though.

Gary and I discussed the Kororoit creek while I was staying with him. The creek itself runs though Sunshine and has various paths and tracks along it. The creek eventually goes out to Port Phillip Bay at a place called Altona. Altona has several refineries and a lot of low lying ground. This makes for challenging pictures, even on public land. Today’s skies were a bonus though. Melbourne’s only road that has a ford is here too. This floods periodically and was indeed flooded today. This didn't stop several people mainly in 4 Wheel Drive vehicles from crossing the creek. Altona abuts another suburb with a rich history, Williamstown. I spent the day criss-crossing the boundaries of the two.
2020-01-23 11:08:33 Racecourse Road, Williamstown facing north west near the ford created by Kororoit Creek
2020-01-23 11:15:21 Racecourse Road, Williamstwon facing south east, the ford in the middle ground
2020-01-23 11:09:44 Werribee train line, with refinery infrastructure in the background

2020-01-23 11:12:01 Dead trees, and Werribee train line, with refinery infrastructure in the background
2020-01-23 11:41:34 Soccer field in front of refinery at Altona.
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Social Media Malaise?

There seems to be a shift in approach to social media. Andy Adams, Bryan FormhalsJorg Colberg Noah Kalina and Alec Soth all are writing and distributing via means other than Facebook or Twitter. Lewis Bush began the year by advocating for a shift away from Twitter. Will the idea gather steam and snowball?

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Flakphoto & Andy Adams

sign up screen at flak.photo
Andy Adams is an all round nice guy and one of the webs biggest spokespeople for Photography. He is launching a new newsletter and is hoping as many as possible will sign up. You can do so here, flak.photo

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Alternate Browsers?

I do not use Google Chrome, habitually, although I use the map feature often. I do not use google as a search engine either. The reasons are quite clear in the quote below from todays Age newspaper article. I use duckduckgo as my primary search engine with Safari which has historically given better colour support and management than any other browser. Using alternate browsers makes sense in an our current highly surveilled world.

Some other browsers to consider are, iCab, Opera, Firefox, Tor.  On the desktop and mobile platforms.
Google has talked about this approach before. While Apple and Mozilla don't derive much money from advertising, the vast majority of Google's revenue comes from digital ads.

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Photo 2020

PHOTO 2020 is a major new international festival of photography that will activate Melbourne and sites across Regional Victoria with the most inspiring photography from Australia and around the world.

Taking place every two years, the festival addresses the major issues of our time in a program of free exhibitions, outdoor displays and artist commissions across the city, as well as talks, film screenings, masterclasses, education programs and awards. Presenting ideas critical to contemporary photographic discourse, PHOTO encourages the public to engage with and think about photography and visual culture in new and inspiring ways.

The inaugural festival, PHOTO 2020, runs from 23 April to 10 May 2020 and is being delivered in collaboration with over 25 cultural institutions, museums, galleries and universities. The theme for PHOTO 2020 invites artists, curators, writers and academics to interrogate the relationship between photography and truth in the post-internet age.

More info on their website.

Given the size of the photo art scene here in Melbourne I’m surprised I only know 4 of the 70 Australian artists; personally. But I'm excited to see Martin Parr is contributing.

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Some early year ruminations.

West Sunshine, 2020-01-09 17:05:05
I am no fan of best of lists or end of year lists at all.

I will never write about gear. I envy after several pieces of kit. But they are all mostly on the 2nd hand market these days.

I write here for two reasons, to practice my writing skills, both generally and as I consider my PHD application at some point in the future. Oh and to showcase some of the work I am working on. This image to the right is from my ongoing Sunshine Project, on tumblr
Here’s a list of projects I am working on as they're called these days:-

  • Sunshine, postcode 3020 and its changes using both film and digital, the film idea is titled  'Sunshine in Silver Stanza 1 though X', the digital work lives online on tumblr [pc3020.tumlr.com]. For now.
  • Several photobooks in various stages of pre-prodcution and a handful completed listed on my main website a link will be added once my technological issues are resolved.
  • Collage and montage projects, these have just this year begun. After many years of gestation. The plan is for them to be small cheap 6x 4 postcards.
  • A small group of pictures currently titled ‘A Winter Mornings Walk’, inspired by Robert Adams’ work Summer nights. [silver gelatin a work in progress final size to be determined]
  • A series of silver gelatin prints I have printed and exhibited twice called Maps.
  • A series of silver gelatin prints about bridges all shot on 5x4 film and more than 20 years unfinished.
  • A series of silver gelatin prints on the urban landscape from both 5x4 film and 120 film black and white.
  • A small type C print series of pictures near on and around the Ring road M8 freeway, in progress.
  • Two  of tumblrs that explore time and place one at work  the other at home as well as a tumblr of pictures uploaded on the the fly that are loosely curated in any order that suits, the only connection being visual from picture to picture
  • A large box of polaroids that needs editing down to a book.
  • One tentative exhibition has been proposed but is still in the verbal discussion phase.
  • Working on the South Eastern fringes of the Mallee, and the rural towns in-between
  • C Roads and other Adventures a digital psychogeographic exploration of Victoria, or anywhere else I wander with "purpose" 
  • Pictures of nothing or as I like to call it Neo-Documentary

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Flickr is AWESOME!

Tottenham, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. 2004-10-10 17:57:32  [Aluminium]
The second picture that I uploaded to flickr in 2004.

I have been a  flickr.com pro user since 2004.* I have invested heavily in its service for my own creative needs and to share with a larger community. Now with the NBN I also backup all my jpegs and  tiff files. I have unlimited storage and bandwidth for about $75.00 AU per year. It is worth every cent. If you care about your photographs and want to keep them safe and not be used as some kind of ad or artificial intelligence fodder then consider using flickr as a minimum to store your work, but consider getting involved as well. Smugmug as the new owners are doing a great job with flickr. I see no reason why SmugMug would allow this great service to fade! Don't just listen to me I am biased after all; 16 years of biased in fact, Read this article if you need some clarification.  Ferdy Christant says it in much more detail, more eloquently and logically than I ever could. Follow me s2art. Or not. Flickr is still the best place in the world to share and store your photographs!

* This is not a paid endorsement, although I have used flickr daily since 2004. I continue to enjoy it and use it creatively and socially and now as a secondary backup service.

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Bush Fire Aftermath Flowerdale Victoria Australia 2009-03-02
Bush Fire Aftermath Flowerdale Victoria Australia 2009-03-02 16:05:17

Australia is currently experiencing another bushfire crisis. Bushfires have severely impacted on many parts of the east coast mainly small towns and hamlets that have expanses of bush all the way to the town edge, sometime with only the sea as a barrier to safety. This quote is from The Financial Review by a journalist who lived through it. It resonates with me because technology forms such a large pat of my life.
On the ground where it matters, people have not been tuned into politics or the cricket or Twitter. Technology was largely rendered useless. It was about petrol, cash, food and shelter.

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