The smell of hot chips whiffed through the air as I bounced enthusiastically across the boardwalk. I was on my way to meet the other photographers, embarking on our latest adventure at Hillary’s Boat Harbour. I was super-excited about the prospect of meeting a Hillary.
We had gathered outside The Breakwater Tavern, which was already full of people. Music boomed from inside, setting the mood for our adventure. The event was eagerly anticipated, following a two-week hiatus. In fact, one of the photographers had trekked for hours from Baldivis on public transport. It was a huge step outside of his comfort zone, venturing into the northern suburbs and entering unfamiliar territory. He must have felt like Edmund Hillary climbing to the top of Mount Everest, which is very fitting being at Hillary’s. Fortunately, the adrenalin rush of completing such a trek outweighed the exhaustion and he was keen to continue with us.
Our first stop was the Boat Harbour. Given that the light was very bright, it was challenging to take a decent photograph. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but photograph a boat called Kalamari, before the photographers decided to head back towards the boardwalk.
It was a lively, festive atmosphere around Hillary's. There were several milestone birthdays happening at The Breakwater, including 30th and 50th birthday parties. We could hear the champagne popping and could see the gigantic silver balloons. Next door, the Old Wild West was going wild. During our stroll we encountered many seagulls dancing on the top of boats and on top of dolphins. Even the dolphins were dancing for a good cause, on a wishing well with a sign saying, “where dolphins do good turns for charity.” In the distance I couldn’t help but notice a boat called Wishful Drinking.
As we walked to the other end of the harbour I was distracted by The Go Party Bus. There was a line of very excited partygoers boarding the bus, ready to continue their partying elsewhere. Meanwhile, others were boarding the choo-choo train which was having its own party. The train circled around and around and around and around, playing the coolest music in town. The first song we heard was Baby Shark. After a while it was playing Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Clearly it was getting dizzy from all the circling. Either that, or the party on board was THAT good. The ear worms were having a ball. If the choo-choo train songs didn’t get stuck in your head, there is always the classic song Under the Boardwalk.
The choo-choo train was clearly steaming. After sunset, its lights glowed while it continued to pump out steam into the night. The boardwalk was far from being a bored walk, instead being the place to board buses and trains. All aboard at the boardwalk! Toot toot!
The photographers got carried away with conversation and became dizzy watching the choo-choo train. Consequently, some didn’t take as many photographs as usual. On a personal note, I am devastated that we didn’t get to meet a Hillary. Once it got dark, we decided to embark on our separate journeys home. The Rockingham adventurer wanted to return to his abode before sunrise. This time he didn’t catch the train, leaving it to choo-choo around Hillary’s. By the time that train finally runs out of steam, Santa Claus may already be in town.
As a self-confessed Sculpture by the Sea enthusiast, I returned to Cottesloe beach on Friday morning, a cloudier and much cooler day compared to my last visit. The purpose was to explore sculptures that I didn’t get to see previously. Starting on the hill, I spent a lot of time on the grassed area, snapping away while dodging groups of school children. The ambience was enhanced by the music playing from a gigantic wind chime. It was heavenly. Looking down towards the ocean, the view was stunning.
Sculptures on the hill.
Although determined not to get distracted by the seagulls, the seagulls were determined to distract me. As I walked towards the sculpture of an upside-down white horse, a seagull landed on top of one of the horse’s legs. It stood very still as if it were part of the statue. The seagull could have easily been mistaken for part of the sculpture. Thankfully it decided not to poop on the statue, but even if it did, the colours would have blended nicely. Another seagull became jealous of the photographic opportunity and tried to steal the spotlight. The seagull modelling industry is obviously very competitive.
Sculpture: Heads It Is, by Paul Capor
Strolling down the hill, I encountered many amazing art works, as well as more groups of school children. Before I knew it, I was back in the sand next to the unmissable yellow sculpture. Beside it was a set of rocks which were intriguing. Being so popular, however, I found it very challenging to take a photo without people in it.
The serene mood of the beach added to the experience. Wandering along the sand, I decided to walk in the water. The excitement was so much that that I wet my pants. Actually, the waves of the ocean did it. I was extremely careful to keep my camera above water. Some might say that it was foolish to take it so close, but I’m just a thrill-seeker. Combining my beach walk with the sculptures, I was captivated by a group of seagulls surfing the waves. I snapped away and got quite a few action shots. At that point my camera battery became flat. Nevertheless, I was still happy with what I had captured.
Bouncing back up the hill in excitement, I was on a high in more ways than one. It was an AWESOME day.
I was on such a high that I went back the next day, in the late afternoon. Once again, the atmosphere was completely different. Firstly, there were many more people, being a weekend. Additionally, despite being late afternoon, the weather was hot and the sky was blue. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t have been able to take the same photos as the day before. Instead I took a very different perspective.
One thing that can be guaranteed is that no two experiences at Sculptures by the Sea are alike. I went three times so far this year, and each experience was considerably different. It remains by far one of my favourite events in Perth and a must-see every year.
A few of my favourite photographs
For more of my photographs, go to Sculptures by the sea
On Sunday 6 March, the Western Australian Social Photographers embarked on an adventure to the Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2021. I could feel the wind tangling my hair as soon as I stepped out of the car. Fighting with the wind, I put my hat on and started walking towards our meeting spot at the famous Indiana Teahouse. Once we had all arrived, the photographers were faced with the difficult decision of where to begin. We decided to follow the seagulls, just like the wise men following the Star of Bethlehem.
Our seagull GPS turned into chaos when more and more seagulls kept appearing and disappearing. They were having a fun day interfering with our navigation and photobombing our shots. One seagull even pretended to be a sculpture and another headed straight for the Indiana Teahouse.
We cruised through the sandy plains like the ships of the desert, admiring the sculptures while dodging people and seagulls. At one point we said hello to a dog on a leash. I tried to take a photo and it nearly licked my camera. There must be something special about my camera because animals have tried to lick it on several occasions now. Maybe it’s just me.
From a distance, I saw a line of fellow travellers who were standing next to the guiding light of a seagull. Just like us, they seemed a bit disorientated with their bodies facing in different directions. I guess it confirms a flaw in the seagull GPS, because even the seagulls couldn't decide which direction to go.
Turning our heads in a different direction, we couldn't help but notice a very pretty structure with plenty of reflecting surfaces. The photographers decided to take a group ‘selfie’ shot through the mirrors. It felt like Christmas, because the sculpture was exquisitely decorated with enormous handprints and what looked like a generous slop of ice-cream. Aside from the group 'selfie,' I took my favourite photo of the day at the same sculpture. After that we continued our snapping until sunset, the time when camels go to bed, and when seagulls are replaced by real stars.
Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe is one of my favourite events in Perth and our outing was enjoyable. There is so much to experience and although we were snapping away for three hours, I didn’t get to see all of the sculptures. That’s probably because I got distracted by the seagulls and got carried away taking photographs. I plan to return over the next week to explore some more.
Three weeks ago a lonesome, masked photographer trudged through the streets as the rain poured down in Victoria Park. Upon his return, he told us about a mysterious mural, incorporating mask wearing figures. It raised a lot of questions among the photographers. Why are they wearing masks? Is the mask wearing related to COVID? After some investigation, we found out that the artwork was painted well before COVID, by a Mexican artist known as Saner. It sparked our interest in the murals of Victoria Park and we decided to follow in the lonesome man’s footsteps. Literally.
On Sunday, three weeks later, the formerly lonesome photographer transformed into The Pied Piper. The other photographers became the rats, prancing along the streets together. The fairy tale had a modern twist because instead of a pipe, he had a camera to lure us. Given that we're living in technologically advanced times, we had cameras too.
Just like rats, the photographers immediately headed towards the dingiest laneways and backs of buildings where the rubbish bins are stored. It was unfortunate that we didn’t have our COVID masks with us, they would have been very handy. Artist Saner was clearly onto something with his masked mural. Perhaps it was a prophecy. Maybe it was a reminder to wear masks when approaching the murals. At this point it's important to mention that the many murals in Victoria Park are located all over the town, not just near rubbish bins. The art works are impressive and definitely worth a visit.
Surprisingly, bin chickens were nowhere to be seen around the rubbish bins. Maybe the area was too scary for them. Perhaps they felt a bit intimidated by the mural that said, “Is this stupid bin chicken meant to look like me?” How dare they call bin chickens stupid! In the absence of bin chickens, we took a few photos and made them snappy before moving on.
The photographers frolicked joyfully through Albany Highway with their cameras, snap-snap-snapping away. We encountered a cheery man on a bicycle who rode past us and posed for a photograph. Unfortunately, I was not snappy enough and missed that photo opportunity. Not to worry though, he came back and posed for us again. That time I did get a shot of him.
We soon walked past a donut shop, Donut Worry, confirming that worrying is a waste of energy. Ironically, a police vehicle was parked in front of that shop. At one point, there was an ambulance there at the same time. In keeping with the theme, the shop next to Donut Worry is called Gosh.
Thankfully we didn’t waste our energy worrying because we needed it for our long walk. We trekked for a few kilometres in the extreme heat, just like camels in the Sahara Desert. By that point we’d moved on from being rats, although some photographers looked like drowned rats with their excessive perspiration. In the distance we saw what looked like an oasis. We walked towards the greenery which turned out to be Read Park.
When we reached the park, some of the photographers took a seat on a bench, next to the Victoria Park Community Garden. It was there that we finally encountered a bin chicken, walking awkwardly inside the garden. One of the photographers reminded me that bin chickens, otherwise known as Ibises, were considered sacred by the ancient Egyptians. It was certainly our lucky day. Seeing the bin chicken was a very grand finale to our awesome adventure and we left feeling very happy. After we said our goodbyes I trudged back to my car, just like the lonesome photographer a few weeks ago.
Victoria Park is a paradise for photographers with a good mix of old and new buildings, cafes, murals and people. It is also very multicultural. For example, we walked past some Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Vietnamese and Japanese restaurants in close proximity of each other. It is interesting to note that many of those places confirm that Victoria Park is a worry-free zone. One of them is the Good Fortune Roast Duck House, which will bring you luck unless you are a duck. A particular restaurant that caught my attention is Cinnamon Vic Park, with it's very welcoming front door. Another place had Japanese bottles perfectly aligned, which can make some people worry-free. Finally, there is a place called Teamorrow, where the sun will come out. All that's missing is someone playing the classic song from Annie.
I thoroughly enjoyed my photography walk and I will definitely be back to explore more of Victoria Park.
Writer and Photographer
About my blog
An honest and often humorous recount of my photographic experiences. There is always a story, regardless of the photographs taken.