Schouten Island 2017 Oct

Schouten Island. October 2017.

Before Bruce’s disappearance, I had booked us both in to an HWC walk to Schouten Island, and we were looking forward to it. By the weekend of the walk, however, events in my life had changed dramatically; nonetheless, I thought I would like to go, albeit for entirely different reasons. I decided that seeking the soothing balm of nature and camping with a tiny group of friends would be restorative. I was right. These friends were just perfect, and I had a wonderful mixture of happy, healing company and much-needed solitude. We climbed mountains each day, and I had fun at dawn and dusk photographing the beauty of Schouten. The “peaks” we climbed were Bear Hill and Mt Story. I will give each its separate entry in the blog, and only publish some seascape shots in this entry.

Adamsons Falls 2017 Oct

Adamsons Falls 19 Oct 2017

These falls are one tier below the actual Adamsons Falls, which are just visible in the top left corner.
I needed a trip to Adamsons Falls as a diversion after four days’ intensive hunting for my lost husband in the nearby Creekton Falls area. Under superlative police leadership, we had searched all places logical and illogical, rational and irrational, possible and impossible, and had drawn a blank. Now, I needed a workout to soothe my soul, to distract my emotions and cleanse me in a way that only a run or workout can do. Some people turn to drink when they need to calm down; others to drugs. I just need to go for a run or a fast walk – preferably in the wilderness.  I announced my plan.

Actual Adamsons Falls.
Aidan, a friend and former student, wanted to come too. We used to train together, so I knew his general pace, and said ‘sure’. A policeman wanted to come, and I rudely warned him that I was not in the mood for loitering today. The others teased him a bit, but he said he was fine. Another person (whom I didn’t know) wanted to come, but I drew the line there: It seemed very impolite, but I really didn’t feel like taking on someone who might hold me up. And I wanted the group to be “cosy”, with only people who understood me and what I was going through at this time.

We arrived at the start, and off I set, happy to find myself alone after not too many minutes. Had there just been one person with me, I would have felt  obliged to be courteous and wait, but the two guys had each other, so I could move quickly, dream and sing, lost in my own little world.
In thirty eight minutes, I reached Adamsons Falls, and could photograph away while waiting for the other two. I set up my tripod and shot and sang. Some people have their spiritual moments in a dark building made with human hands; I have mine in nature. This was a religious excursion as much as anything. When the guys arrived, they wanted to rest and eat a bit. I was soothed by now, having had my little lash out, so we chatted and ate and enjoyed these falls, which are very beautiful, even if they can’t match Creekton.

Hygrocybe roseoflavida.
The next section was fun: a pink taped route through beautiful forest, with enough obstacles to make it interesting and turn it away from being a march. I have heard other photographers describe this as rough and difficult. Listen to them  and not to me. I’m a bushwalker, used to bushbashing, so this was easy for me. The three of us stayed together in this ‘third’, chatting away while we went, keeping an eye out for any signs of my husband while doing so. This took us fifty five minutes.

Back at the Creekton Rivulet, below Creekton Falls.
Now we had reached the Creekton Falls, which the other two hadn’t yet seen, so I sent them up to look at the main falls while I photographed a cascade nearer to the junction that I hadn’t shot on day one. Once more, we had fun talking and eating before setting out on the final downhill stretch leading back to the cars. This part took fifty two minutes. The other two dropped behind me, so once more I enjoyed myself having a faster walk with singing. I felt refreshed from having been allowed to move this day. My daughters climbed Admasons Peak, scanning higher territory just in case Bruce had somehow climbed up there. On the way down, they had to come to terms with the fact that this was it, the final day of our hunt, and, if they got back to be told there was no luck again on this day, then the search was officially over.
The next day, day six, was not a search day. We sombrely walked to the lake (which we later learned – courtesy of Rafael’s drone – is a heart-shaped lake!!) and had a little farewell service there before dispersing. I cannot think of myself as a widow or Bruce as dead. Legally, he’s not. He has disappeared. Intellectual knowledge and emotional knowledge do not always align. Reality will catch up with me one day.
Here is a beautiful poem that a friend, Fiona Wills, wrote about this place and event:

A man may choose his resting place,
If he is good and thought of well,
If worthy words leave kindly trace
And of his wisdom others tell.

Our man sought out a heart-shaped lake,
He meant the rugged paths to tame.
Let us recall it for his sake
And think as fondly of Strathblane.

We needn’t miss what yet remains;
The man, his deeds are here.
He’ll give us cause to smile again.
Our troubled minds will clear.

The absence felt is this, not more:
We wait as he enjoys awhile
The forest air filling his core,
Soft earth at end of weary miles.

Curse not the cloaking wilderness
But stop and rest and see
The peace and worth in places
That brought joy to such as he.

A man may choose his resting place,
If he is good and Nature kind,
And seek himself a quiet space
Where pleasant memories come to mind.

Creekton Falls 2017 Oct

Creekton Falls 14th October 2017

And so, by the chronological presentationI have been following of the falls we visited on this holiday, I now arrive at Creekton Falls. These glorious falls would be momentous in their own right, even if nothing else happened that day: because of their sheer beauty, and the attendant beauty of all the cascades that can be found if you wander downstream. Even the lower demesne of the Creekton Rivulet, with no falls or cascades, just gentle burbles, is  captivating due to its tannin colour set in deep rainforest green.

I have written in the blog titled “Bruce’s Final Footsteps” about the tragic turn events took that day. Most people reading this blog are coming to this post to find out information about the Creekton Falls, as such, (or to see my photos of it) so I will write about their beauty, even though, for me and for all of us who searched for six days for Bruce, that beauty is couched within the context of events as they emerged once I got back to the car and discovered that my husband wasn’t there.

After I left him (at the start, to do his own, easier walk), I was off in my private little world, dreaming to the rhythm of my footsteps in my purposeful stride, and transported to a different realm of enormous beauty, hating rushing past it, and planning to go backwards with Bruce after our rendez-vous to shoot some sweet pools with appealing flow lines. I got to the lake, which had mirror reflections, but didn’t stop, as I wanted to allow any extra time in my estimation to be spent photographing the falls themselves.

The path was less clear after the lake, but there were pink ribbons, and nothing was tricky if you’re experienced – there was even a rope on the steep bit that was muddy enough to pose possible problems if it was very wet. Up I climbed, reaching the falls in one hour fifteen minutes. Good. I had plenty of time for photography. I chose several different angles, and had a wonderful time, singing as I shot. Tessie behaved beautifully for a change, not worrying me too much by going near edges, and sitting very still when I perched in dangerous positions to get my angles.

On the way back, I looked longingly at the pink ribbon that lead to Adamsons Falls. I had deliberately chosen – before I ever set out – not to do them, as I thought the expected three hours was long enough to leave Bruce by himself. People say the Adamsons-Creekton loop is seven hours – much too long. I’d do Adamsons another time. I don’t like eating all my chocolates at once anyway. (I actually did this loop on day 6 and was back well before lunchtime. I’ll write that blog soon). The return trip from the falls to the car only took one hour for the walking part, a pleasant morning’s outing …. except that there was no Bruce at the end.

There never was a Bruce again, but, as I said earlier, that is another story, particular to Bruce rather than these falls. For you, they’ll “just” be the magic Creekton Falls. For Bruce’s family and the thousands of people who have been touched by him – by his patience, his kindness, his gentillesse and his power to inspire others to be and do their best – it will be the special place of his final walk. We all call the forest “Brucey Forest”, and it will always be the place where I feel a very special connection to my soulmate and husband.

Taroona 2017 Oct

Taroona sunrise Oct 2017.

On the morning of this sunrise, Bruce and I eyed Taroona up as a possible settling place for some time in the future, as we figured we’d need to move to Hobart one day when our current house would be too much work for me, and, of course, neither of us knew that this would be his last full day on earth. We decided Taroona, with beach walks and sunrise over the ocean, was just the place for us. Who would ever believe what lay ahead of us and that such a conversation was superfluous? It seems surreal to look back on all these tiny events, so incidental at the time, and yet so crammed with importance for me, later (like now). Mostly, you only know when something is the “last time” in retrospect.

I guess losing your partner makes you sentimental, as I find myself clinging to all these “last things”, hanging onto them, as if doing so will help me somehow hang on to Bruce. But, meanwhile, his sudden disappearance and death reinforce for me the lesson I have known since I was a child, and my father had a heart attack (I was eight) and my mother got cancer (I was twelve): namely, that I shouldn’t take relationships for granted. What walks and talks today can be gone tomorrow. I learned not to assume that anything I loved would be there for ever. Knowing that helps one live life to the fullest.

Because of my parents, I never wasted time with Bruce, even insisting that he come to Europe for three weeks each year to watch me compete, wanting to use time together wisely while we had it, for you never know what the future holds. We lived life fully right up to his end, and so, although I am devastated to lose him, I have lost him without a sense of regret that we could have done better, that we wasted our precious time together, or that we should have done this or that thing while we could. It would have been hard to eek out more than we did from life without dying (even earlier) from exhaustion.  I think it was a marriage well lived.

Fairy Falls 2017 Oct

Fairy Falls. Friday 13th October, 2017

I had read about Fairy Falls near Geeveston in the web and was keen to see them on this southern waterfall-bagging spree. I must say, I found the web instructions a little ambiguous, as one is merely told to follow Fairy Falls Rd, which is cute, but one has to find it. Feeling not entirely confident, we turned out of Geeveston down the road signed to the Tahune Airwalk, and fairly shortly afterwards, took a right turn onto Fourfoot Rd. Fairy Falls Rd forks off this road after a few kilometres. At last we had a quasi sign to the falls.

Once found, Fairy Falls Rd is followed to a big, almost u-bend where it crosses O’Hallorans Creek (unnamed). It is possible to leave one’s car at this bend (I did). Our small adventure was about to begin. Almost unbelievably, the phone rang. We don’t expect that to happen while fall bagging in the wilderness. It was our second-born daughter, full of excited news, so we walked along chatting to her while dodging branches, ducking under and climbing over obstacles until we got to the base of the falls.

Once we’d parked at that corner, we’d followed an unsigned pad going up the hill to the left, next to an electric fence, the other side of which is a clear paddock. To our right, and all too close, were blackberries, but they didn’t bite.  At the first corner, maybe 50 ms up, it was time to leave the fence and follow the creek. Faint pads were present as we weaved our way through beautiful fern trees, a tanin-coloured creek below. Eventually, after maybe a total of ten minutes, the falls were reached, and it was time to stop talking to Lenie and start concentrating on photography.

We had actually made a little error on our way to that u-bend, as O’Halloran’s Creek is not named and we kept going, the map being a bit unclear. We ended up in the back yard of a man who informed us that these falls were misnamed; they were an insult to falldom, and no falls at all but a dribble of a cascade in snake-infested country and not worth the trouble. He added that they were an embarrassment to Geeveston and apologised to us that we had been sent on a wild goose chase. I guess this just goes to prove the relativity of concepts of beauty, as we, like whoever named them “Fairy”, found them idyllic, dainty and wonderful. For sure, they don’t compete in volume with Niagara, but I prefer grace and subtlety to a hammering thump on the head, so Bruce and I were perfectly happy with what we found, and not in need of any apologies from this man to whom, I guess, size is everything.