The following is less about me, more about my experiences with the
ocean. It makes a much more relevant (and interesting) story.
When I was fourteen I spent part of my summer vacation
at a place called Port Arlington, Near Queenscliff, situated on
the lower Western arm of Port Phillip Bay. Snorkelling for me up
to that time had consisted of desolate sandy bottoms and salt water
up my nose, but this time was different. There was actually something
to look at.
As I floated back and forth a few metres above an
intricate kelp garden inhabited by a school of baby toadfish, I
knew I was hooked.
The ocean was suddenly a new frontier, a dangerous
unexplored wilderness where anything could happen. I read books
by Ben Cropp and the like, and soon my head was swimming with visions
of gold laden sunken wrecks and giant man eating squid.
It was clear to me that only a foolhardy madman
would enter the sea unprotected, so when I returned to Port Arlington
in April I proudly sported a handmade spear, which consisted of
a broomstick, 4 nails and a box of thick red rubber bands, all neatly
tied together. This would, I reasoned, both keep me safe from the
unknown monsters of the deep and enable me to snare the odd 100-pound
kingfish that happened my way.
The small schools of zebra fish and old wives were
quite safe that Easter. Infact the only life threatened was my own,
when an old wooden water ski I was using to get to a far out reef
decided to sink!
At sixteen my friends, brothers and I were spearfishing
around the wreck of the Cerberus, near Sandringham, on the mid Eastern
side of Port Phillip Bay. The Cerberus was an old WWI warship that
was scuttled in 3 metres of water off a beach called Black Rock.
Because it was only partially submerged, it was possible to dive
through portholes into the ship and swim around the spooky dimy
I caught my first fish, a whopping 5 kg 'butterfish'
or Dusky Morwong, on the reef a few hundred metres past the old
wreck.We were keen in those days. The get into the water involved
an hour and a half train ride from where I lived in Nunawading,
followed by a two kilometre walk (carrying wetsuits, weightbelts,
fins etc..!). At least we had no problems getting a seat on the
train, what with carrying our spearguns and all.Shortly after my
eighteenth birthday I did an open water scuba diving course, and
earned my certifcate. Scuba diving in Melbourne centers mostly around
the Heads at the bottom of Port Phillip Bay. Most of my diving took
off from Portsea Pier. From this one place you could dive old shipwrecks,
submarines, caves, and underwater cliffs. I had many great dives
in this area, and continue to return every year.
Six months later my friend Boe and I embarked on
an epic voyage up the East coast of Australia in his old Valiant
One of the first places we stopped at was Green Cape, right on the
NSW border. I remember checking out one the bays from a lookout
and being moved by its isolation and wildness, wanting to
be a part of it somehow, but not knowing how to accomplish that
Other places I remember from that trip are Byron
Bay (with mountain goats), Mission Beach , and particulary Magnetic
Island, off Townsville, where I spent a couple of months soaking
up the sun.
When I returned to Melbourne I found it hard to
find work, what with the recession and all, so scuba diving was
out. My friends started spearfishing again, at a rough and ready
place called Pyrimad Rock, halfway along Phillip Island. The place
was so wild that we could only ever dive on the East side, as a
near consistent 4 metre swell smashed into the West side. One time
we made it right around, though it was a near thing for Boe.
I found it hard to get back into spear fishing.
When you scuba dive, the fish tend to treat you as an equal, and
I found it hard to slaughter them just for a dubious meal of fish
and chips. My friends found this attitude hard to accept, and argued
that a white pointer shark would not think twice about eating me,
and as the waters around Phillip Island were crawling with sharks,
the fish were actually much safer than I was. Although this cheered
me up a little bit, my heart wasn't really into mindless slaughter
anymore. So I concentrated on Abalone hunting.
Around 1992, shortly after I turned 21, my friends and I got
interested in surfing. Work was still hard to find in Melbourne,
so we ended up spending a lot of our time out on the waves. We
learned the basics at Smith's beach on Phillip Island, then moved
on to breaks such as Woolamai, Sutherland and Cat's Bay. On the
West side we surfed Torquay, Jun Juc and Bells.
- I got interested in scuba diving again when I picked up a second
hand underwater camera. I started taking my diving gear on surfing
trips, and managed to get in a few dives. My underwater photography
effort was not fantastic, but I enjoyed it just the same. To finish
off the film I started taking pictures of the beach. Soon I had quite
- One of the main disadvantages to living in Melbourne is the long
drive to get to a respectable beach. There was nothing worse than
driving an hour and a half only to check out flat seas or wind blown
slop. In December 1993 my friend Boe and I spent a weeks holiday in
Sydney on Bondi Beach, where we had an amazing time (until I broke
my board on a huge wave!)
- Being able to walk to the surf from where we were staying was a
different experience for us, and one we thought we could adjust to.
The following winter we packed up Boe's HQ station wagon and moved
to Sydney for good.
- We lived in the Bondi Hotel for six months, with a great view of
the surf. Soon we were working afternoon shifts, which left our days
free for surfing. We surfed Bronte, Dee Why, Long Reef, Tamarama,
Whale and Palm Beach. On the weekends, we travelled up the coast to
Avoca, Forrester's, Terrigal, Norah Head and Newcastle or down the
coast to Kiama. Our favourite trip away was to a beach called Crescent
Head, just North of Port Macquarie. On a good day, the waves at that
place run 200 metres. We always camped in the Caravan Park within
walking distance of both the beach and the pub.
- I started diving again, at Frog Dive in Maroubra (now SDA in Matraville).
I dived Bare Island, Shark Point (near Clovelly Pool), North and South
Bondi and Camp Cove. I became interested in wreck diving and did a
deep diving course. Interestingly, one day on the way to dive a deep
wreck, the Tuggerah in 50 metres of water, we came across an overturned
speedboat. The young crew had already struggled to shore so there
was not much left for us to do, other than notify the Coast Guard.
They turned up and with our aid attempted to tow the wreck away from
the rocks, where it promptly sunk. We went and dived on our deep wreck,
then returned to do a dive on this new wreck!
- On a dive trip to Eden in 1998, while admiring the local scenery,
it occurred to me to start photographing the various beaches I visited,
as by this time there had been a few. The following September I bought
my first 'good' camera, a Pentax MZ-50, which I got duty free on a
trip to the Solomon Islands. I was impressed by the quality a good
SLR can produce and vowed that from then on, every time I visited
an interesting beach I would take some photos.
- I didn't have to wait long. That Christmas my girlfriend Meliana
and I drove to Kangaroo Island, off Adelaide, via the Great Ocean
Road, a 3000 kilometre trip. A few months later I bought a scanner,
and my first webpage, which I called Beach Wallpaper was born. It
averaged 100 hits per week. I was amazed that that many people were
interested in my photos! (These days I average 3000 hits a week and
with close to half a million picture downloads I'm even more amazed!
- November 1999 I visited Norfolk Island where I had a fantastic time
diving and photographing. This was the last time I used print film.
These are the oldest photos on my site.
- January 2000 I started using slide film and was extremely happy
with the result. I have yet to buy a slide scanner, so I get my slides
done when they are developed, and although the scans are sometimes
a bit dodgy, the overall result is much better than photo scans. )
- The only photo on my site from this time is the one of Bondi Cliff.
It was also around this time that I renamed my site Beachtrek. I did
this mainly because www.beachwallpaper.com was already taken.
- April 2000 my girlfriend and I took the sleeper train up to Brisbane.
I got some great shots of Noosa National Park, and she took a beautiful
sunset shot from our hotel room.
- May 2000 we stayed on the Central Coast where I took some pictures
including a great shot of Terrigal Haven, this is one of my most downloaded
- June 2000 I visited Melbourne for my father's 60th birthday. My
brother Paul, a pilot, and I flew over the remote area of Wilson's
Prom, the southern most tip of the Australian Mainland. This was my
first attempt at aerial photography.
- During the Olympics in Sydney, we had fantastic weather. I took
a couple of weeks off work and spent a few days walking around photographing
- For my 30th birthday, my girlfriend Meliana gave me a Kodak digital
camera (dc-290). After a family party in Melbourne, my brother Paul,
his girlfriend Larissa and I drove up the coast to Sydney from Phillip
Island. All the pictures I took on that trip were digital. I was also
able to update my webpage each day by using a laptop computer. After
Phillip Island, we drove along the coast to Mallacoota, then to Merimbula,
where we hired a plane and flew out over Green Cape and Cape Howe.
Although the weather turned bad, the pictures were acceptable.
- Close to the end of our trip, we stopped at Pebbly Beach, just out
of Bateman's Bay. Here I took one of my all time favourite shots,
that of a Kangaroo playing in the surf. I like taking wildlife pictures,
but it is a large field, and not my main passion. It helps though,
if the wildlife takes a dip in the beach!
- March 2001 I finally dragged myself out of bed for a sunrise shoot.
I also got a new camera, a Nikon F90, as a gift from my boss. I loaded
it with Fuji Velvia and got some fair shots, for my first attempt.
- April 2001 I was lucky enough to visit Maylasia. I drove around
the Island of Langkawi, then visited the Island of Palau Payar, where
I took a great shot of a baby shark swimming close to the shore.
Beachtrek Photo Disk + Free Print