Red lanterns adorned the plaza. Dragons, dancing ladies in red, stalls and fun rides all around. The smell of food whiffed across the air. Clanging and banging of drums, firecrackers exploding. Northbridge was well and truly alive for the Chinese New Year Fair 2021. While the Year of the Ox officially began on February 12, the fair was held on February 14.
It was my first time at the carnival and I met with a group of photographers who were there to capture the occasion. My attention was immediately drawn to the gigantic ox in the centre of the precinct. Given that the photographers arrived early, we decided to wander around the many stalls and surrounding streets until the official celebrations started.
We returned to the main area just in time for the opening ceremony, where crowds had gathered to witness the firecrackers, dancers, drummers and dragons. Even the State Premier Mark McGowan was there in a suit and tie. That's what another photographer told me anyway. Being a somewhat shorter person, my view was obscured by the taller people all around. However, I did find a small space where I got a glimpse of the crowd. Maybe next year I can get some stilts. There were actually some performers on stilts so I’d blend in perfectly.
By the time the opening ceremony finished, I had walked around a lot and lost the other photographers. It was a very hot and humid day and I could sense myself sizzling like a barbecued Peking Duck. Despite the heat, I continued to explore.
Eventually I did find one of the other photographers. He was sweating so profusely, I thought he had gone swimming. YIKES! It really was THAT humid. Thankfully we did drink plenty of water. After a few hours though, we decided to call it a day.
Overall, the Chinese New Year Fair 2021 was a fun experience and I’ll be back. Well done to the organisers, they did a great job of putting it all together, particularly given the challenges of COVID. Wishing everyone a Happy Chinese New Year 2021, let’s hope that the Year of the Ox brings good fortune, prosperity and joy.
Just like surgeons ready to commence an operation, the photographers arrived wearing masks. It was a historic event. Before the gathering I felt a bit anxious, wondering whether we would recognise each other. Fortunately our cameras and unusual outfits gave us away. Apart from the masks, the photographers looked more like clowns than surgeons.
Surprisingly, the humidity was extreme and some of the photographers decided to have a picnic before we even started. They were extremely well prepared with an assortment of food and wine. One of the other photographers had already wandered off into the distance, sending us on a wild goose chase. It was futile because we didn’t encounter any geese in South Perth. Instead, there were plenty of seagulls, corellas, ducks, pelicans and darters.
The unmistakable cacophony of corellas, white birds covering the lawn just like snow. There were thousands of them. I was lured to the birds and spent a lot of time photographing both the corellas and seagulls. It was a challenge because they flew away if you got too close, and they moved quickly. I spent a lot of time on the ground, trying very hard to not sit on the bird droppings. I suppose the mask was useful in that I didn’t get to smell any of the bird poo. My patience paid off and I managed to get some good shots of the seagulls.
One of the photographers eventually scared away the white birds, just as the picnickers were ready to move to a different location. We all went on a leisurely stroll to the Coode Street Jetty. The view was magnificent. In one direction was the Swan River and Perth City Skyline, in the other were catamarans, food trucks and people. The place was packed. We were later joined by a group of teenagers who started jumping off the jetty, into the jellyfish infested water. The jellyfish were enormous. Interestingly, I noticed a sign that said, "Do not eat mussels or crab guts." I was more than happy to comply with that sign.
By the time we turned around, the picknickers in the group had already disappeared. They had set up a second round of picknicking at a park bench at a spectacular location by the catamarans. We joined them and watched the sunset together. It was a beautiful evening with a stunning red sky. Both a shepherd’s and a photographer’s delight.
Having to wear masks was an interesting and memorable experience. While they certainly served a purpose for preventing the spread of COVID, masks can also be helpful when encountering rancid smells. I am therefore keeping some spare masks for emergencies.
A few favourite photographs
The Western Australian Museum Boola Bardip is a photographer’s paradise. There are endless photo opportunities with the building’s stunning architecture and exhibits. On Sunday I visited the museum with a group of like-minded photographers. It was my third visit since the museum opened in late November.
We covered a lot of ground exploring all the floors of the museum, focusing on the architecture while remaining weird for the entire time. Ironically, we were so focused on taking our photographs that we weren’t so focused on each other. The museum is enormous and we lost each other numerous times during the visit. It was a bit like Where’s Wally with photographers. The only thing is that we weren’t wearing red and white stripes, or glasses like Wally. It’s definitely something to remember for next time.
The museum is a playground for both children and adults, not just for photographers. There are different exhibits over five floors, engaging all the senses including sight, touch, sound and smell. The museum is very accessible. While there are plenty of stairs, there are also escalators and elevators. Additionally, the museum has a café for those who want to take a break.
Before we knew it, a few hours flew by and we still had lots to see. At that point, the photographers decided to go on an adventure to find the cafe. It is tucked away in the corner of the museum and like hungry bloodhounds, we successfully sniffed our way there. The cafe was packed, therefore it was a challenge to find a table. However, we did find a table and had an enjoyable time.
Things changed suddenly when one of the photographers got a text message saying that Western Australia will be in lockdown due to COVID. Initially I didn’t believe it. We stayed at the cafe for a while and watched it become empty very quickly. We were probably among the last people to leave. At that point we farewelled each other, not knowing how much time the lockdown will last. I personally didn’t let that lower my spirits though. I was on a high from the adventure and also from the coffee.
Overall, it was an enjoyable day at the museum with an awesome group of people. It was also a very good photography day for me, with lots of photographs that I’m pleased with. The WA Museum Boola Bardip is definitely a photographer's paradise. It's an incredible place to visit and a must-see when you’re in Perth.
Favourite Photographs from WA Museum Boola Bardip
Thousands of birds were frolicking in and around the lake. Careful not to sit on the freshly made droppings, I lay still with my camera, observing the lively sights and sounds. A trumpet like call caught my attention as a black swan glided gracefully across the water. Just like a small boat, it was followed by a large ripple of water. The swan demanded attention with its loud call, as it towered well above the other birds.
After it waddled out of the lake, the swan put on a spectacular show. It raised its neck and made several loud calls in a row. Out of nowhere a second black swan appeared. From that point the two swans were inseparable, waddling together across the grass before making their way into the river. I followed the two swans as they took me on a wild swan chase. It was an interesting adventure. What I learned is that swans can move very quickly and they cover a lot of ground. Be prepared to follow them wherever they take you.
There were a lot of bloopers. At one point I thought I had framed the perfect shot as one of the swans stood in front of the city skyline. As I snapped, the swan got ready to dive into the river. The result is hilarious.
After a wonderful experience, I was determined to return the next day. This time I ventured further up the river near the bridge, where there were plenty of seagulls and jellyfish. A few more swans arrived as I explored the area. There were four in total. The swans spent at least an hour preening their feathers on the riverbank, beside a shallow puddle created by the low tide. I watched them standing on one leg while twisting their neck in peculiar ways. Their flexibility and balance are incredible.
Each of the birds was meticulous with their preening, they were fascinating to watch. It seems like the swans carried on for hours and I'm not exaggerating. Their actions were very repetitive as they lowered their heads into the water before twisting their heads backwards to preen their feathers.
The swans carried on with their activities as if I wasn’t there. That’s just as well because they are known to attack sometimes (not that I’ve ever had that experience). Given that I recently had my camera licked by both an echidna and a goat, it’s a good thing that the swans didn't come too close. However, I did end up getting my bag wet and dirty from venturing onto the muddy river bank. It was well worth the experience though.
Overall I got some shots that I'm pleased with, as well as some more bloopers. I thought I had a good shot of one swan, when another decided to stand in the background and photobomb. It added to the entertainment.
I thoroughly enjoyed observing and photographing the swans. I learned a lot and will certainly be back for more.
'Twas the night before Trishmas and all through the zoo, not a creature was stirring...
It turns out that some of the animals had gone to bed early, in anticipation of Trisha the elephant’s 64th birthday the next day. The birthday was going to be a big celebration and the animals wanted to save their energy. Anyhow, it really was rude of us to arrive well after the animals’ usual bedtime. Trisha was nowhere to be seen, obviously having her beauty rest.
On Sunday 17 January, I visited the Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, with a group of photographers. The photographers gathered in the gravelly car park before walking to the main entrance, where we were warmly welcomed. After a short talk and video about Kanyana, we were taken on a guided tour.
Our adventure started with a quick look at the animal hospital, before making our way to what looked like a five-star restaurant. It's the place where volunteers prepare delicious, nutritious food for all the animals. The ingredients were definitely fresh, you could tell because some of them were alive and moving. The food smelled so good that it would make even the fullest person salivate. There were also recipe cards which would make a top-selling cookbook. The quality of the recipes and the execution were so fantastic that they would make any Michelin Star chef look mediocre.
We left the kitchen and strolled outside to visit the enclosures. It was an electric atmosphere because there were electric fences everywhere. The first animal friend that we met was the echidna. I had a sensational shot ready, but the echidna licked my camera. Seriously. Who would have thought that echidnas had such long tongues? Fortunately I had some camera wipes to clean the drool off my lens. While I didn’t get amazing shots, I did get a photo of a plant which looked just like an echidna.
Our next stops were the enclosures with cockatoos, tawny frog mouths and a possum. I went inside and took an amazing shot of a possum.
Speaking of tongues, the final animal that we met was a blue-tongued bobtail lizard. Fortunately it was slow to move and my camera was safe.
Overall, our visit to the Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre was both an enjoyable and educational experience. The Centre does wonderful work for the animals and it's well worth a visit.
For more information, please check out their website.
Our adventure at Elizabeth Quay was the biggest and most ironic outing so far this year. Despite so many photographers turning up, none of them was named Elizabeth. Our meeting point, The Bell Tower had thousands of padlocks, but not a single key. Geez, Elizabeth Quay without Elizabeth and without a key. Who would have thought? Unlike our past few events, the photographers didn’t run around like headless chickens. It’s a shame because we had an excellent bird photographer among us.
We commenced our adventure by meandering towards the old jetty area. About five of us reached the end of the jetty and realised that none of us could swim. That was a scary moment because nobody could save us if a seagull pushed us into the water. As there were plenty of seagulls, we walked away cautiously.
During our leisurely stroll, we discovered that there is plenty of wildlife at Elizabeth Quay. We walked past a sign with quokkas that said, “See some friendly faces," before stopping at a very large bird sculpture, “First Contact.” That was my moment to shine, because I got a photo of the bird in perfect focus. At that point I had to remind myself that I'm not a bird, as I had my head too far up in the clouds.
Shortly afterwards we headed towards the ferry terminal before stopping for coffee and chips on the water. Our adventure ended with a spectacular view of the Elizabeth Quay Bridge (Macdonald's Arches) in the distance. The perfect way to end an excellent day.
For more photographs from the adventure, go to Gallery.
We met at the coffee shop before entering the Art Gallery. Thankfully it was quiet and very welcoming. In comparison, the nearby museum had an enormous line of people queueing outside. The museum line was just like mad shoppers waiting for the doors to open at the Boxing Day sales.
Once we were inside the Art Gallery we took our time to appreciate the diverse mix of art. Some of it was incredibly weird but very creative. Overall, it was a very relaxing and enjoyable experience.
After we left the Gallery, we wandered towards the city, wondering where to go first. We stopped briefly outside the train station and encountered a few interesting characters, before heading to the Murray Street Mall. At the Mall there were some pop-up stalls. I was distracted by a sign that said, “free donuts,” before someone pointed out that it said G-free donuts. Gee! I didn’t see the G! Whoops! It’s a good thing that I didn’t want donuts anyway.
Despite the sweltering 40-degree heat, five very hot photographers took on the challenge and prepared to shoot, just like soldiers in battle. It was the ultimate endurance test but we were victorious. Today we were officially among the hottest photographers in Perth and in the world. It’s only a matter of time before we have our own calendar, just like the firefighters. If anyone’s looking for models, here’s your opportunity before we become big. Really, really big.
The photographers worked hard just to get to Cicerellos, our meeting spot. You could see it in the redness of our faces and in the buckets of sweat dripping everywhere. The sweat kept us glued to our seats, so we had to fight extra hard just to stand up.
Early on, we made the strategic decision to stay near the Fishing Boat Harbour due to the scorching weather conditions. We also made the wise decision to stay out of the sun as much as possible. The weather was so extreme that Fremantle looked like the aftermath of a nuclear disaster. The harbour looked deserted, there were very few people and even the seagulls stayed in the shade. However, the Ferris Wheel in the distance kept on turning.
We made our way across the Fishing Boat Harbour towards Bather’s Beach, where we encountered a few very important signs. For example, one said “pick up after your dog,” which is a great reminder for everyone.
To celebrate our official title of “Hottest Photographers in Perth,” we decided to finish our adventure with a group lunch at the Bathers Beach House. Remembering the importance of staying near the water, some of the photographers ordered a drink while acquiring some extra festive spirit. Also keeping with the Christmas tradition, all the photographers were well and truly stuffed by the end of this event.
For more photographs see Gallery
Despite a downpour of rain just an hour before the event, the weather was perfect and it didn’t stop the festivities. We had a good turnout of photographers, which is just as well because there was a good turnout of characters, each with their festive spirits in hand. While gathering at the Moore and Moore building, our meeting point, we already encountered a couple of “party-goers" who started their spirits way too early. That was just a taste of what was yet to come.
As we walked from the old part of Fremantle to the main street, we were entertained by a busking guitarist accompanied by a very special dancer, also with her spirit in hand. It was a very festive atmosphere indeed. That was despite Santa not making it due to COVID. Oops, I said the C word! Unfortunately Rudolph’s nose doesn’t work with a mask on.
We strolled down the main mall towards the Fremantle Markets, then took the scenic route to The Esplanade. In the park we encountered a ferocious dinosaur, an empty Ferris wheel and another character also doing some form of dance. It was spectacular. Presumably the Ferris wheel was empty because you cannot dance on a Ferris wheel.
Anyhow, we covered approximately 18.321 kilometres around Fremantle (ok I may be exaggerating slightly). It was a good workout.
I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure and so did the dancing lady. Unfortunately I didn’t get photos of her or any of the other characters because I just wasn’t brave enough. Additionally, I didn’t want to ruin the festivities.