On a very cold and wet Saturday morning at the beginning of May, a group of diehard (mad in the conditions!) photographers met at Mittagong, for the start of a weekend of photography fun, and socialising!
Once all the expected were assembled, we headed off in convoy (well most of us) to Joadja Creek, the privately owned ruins of a historic village, and shale mine oil refinery, which is now heritage listed. Once at Joadja Creek, the owner Valery, took us on a guided tour of the 800 acre property on his people mover. We saw the miner’s cottages, the shale retorts, school of arts and the refinery area. And with Valery’s vivid descriptions of each area, it was easy to visualise that Joadja Town was once a thriving community of 1200 Scots from 1878 to 1911, who mined the shale from the hillsides enclosing the valley. The village had a natural spring which ran through the valley and never dried up, consequently the miners and their families became self-sufficient and grew their own food and had a thriving orchard. The town was abandoned in 1905 following a bushfire, which swept through and destroyed the refinery and many of the other buildings. The orchards were farmed for another 6 years and then they too were abandoned.
Following the tour and the delicious BBQ lunch, provided by Rachel and Nick, we were able to wander around the ruins and take photos ourselves. Some of the group went for a tour round the newly licensed whiskey distillery. Luckily the rain had finally eased off and the dull light made for great photography conditions. I would have liked it to be a little warmer though so I could feel my fingers to operate my camera! The ruins had so much character, it was a fascinating place to be able to photograph. There was lots of wildlife as well. As the afternoon wore on, people slowly left and made their way to the motel in Bowral.
In the evening we met at an Italian restaurant in Mittagong as a group for a well-earned, delicious meal.
The following morning we headed to Robertson for the day. We started at the cemetery, which has amazing views of the district. Unfortunately it was freezing and blowing a gale. Then we went to the Robertson Forest walk, just up the road from the cemetery. This is a small pocket of remaining sub tropical rainforest with a circular walk through it. Luckily the wind did not get through the trees and as the sun was out it interesting to pick the photos to take as the sun peeked through and highlighted some of the trees and bushes. Many got out their macro lenses to photograph the abundant mosses, lichens and fungi.
Next stop was Carrington Falls. It was short walk from the car park to the lookout of the falls. And another short walk around the edge of the escarpment to the top of the falls where there were rapids and pools to shoot. The rainforest and the falls were two completely different vistas to shoot, which made it a very interesting morning.
Lunch was taken at your leisure back on Robertson at either the Pie Shop or the Cheese Factory. We chose the cheese factory and had a very tasty ploughman’s lunch and a chicken pie … best of both worlds! As Stephen and I were staying in Robertson an extra night this is where we said goodbye, and did not go down to the Wollongong area.
I would like to thank Colin, Neil and Enzo for organising a great weekend. I had no idea Joadja even existed and it was a fascinating place to visit. Then on Sunday, three other very different places to shoot. I would also like to thank everyone else for coming as well. It is great to meet up for longer than just an evening or a morning, and I personally learn so much from the exchange of ideas, watching others take photos and comparing notes over dinner, everyone is so generous with their knowledge. And I get to take photos all weekend without my husband complaining because it is a camera club weekend …