It is a rare day for me that does not feature some use of binoculars and camera gear. We are fortunate to live in a scenic, rural location with a wealth of wildlife. The first item to be placed on the patio table in the mornings are the binoculars, camera with telephoto lens and then a pot of strong, brewed coffee.
But, not this morning. Today we rose at 4AM and drove to one of the nearby bays in Lake Tinaroo. Our mission was to be there for first light and then photograph the quickly changing moods of the lake as daylight bloomed.
The dirt road wound through thick, rainforest scrub. It was pleasing to see a lot of marsupial activity on the road. Small marsupial mice and rats scurried about, while there were plenty of bandicoots and small wallabies criss-crossing the track.
Only a kilometre or so from home I was less than pleased to see a feral cat skulk across the road. There is a creature badly in need of some ballistic readjustment. A couple of kilometres further and a scrawny specimen of wild dog was hungrily foraging along the edge of the road; a regular Wiley Coyote in looks and behaviour.
We arrived at our location in the dark as the eastern sky was just starting to brighten. I fired up the camping stove and emptied a couple of army canteens of water into my blackened and well-used billy. Kathy was already taking photos, but I chose to wait for a bit more light, and make coffee. I was also watching the fish activity right in front of me amongst the forest of dead timber.
There was a significant feeding frenzy taking place with decent sized bony bream slurping and flicking at the mirrored surface. Even more spectacular were a number of hefty barramundi that were smashing the big bony bream. They left impressive, torpedo-like pressure waves and every now and then whoomped a bony bream off the surface with explosive sprays of water. Note to Don – on the next lake morning photo shoot, bring fishing rod.
With a fair bit of cloud it was not a spectacular sunrise, but nevertheless we were treated to a pleasing pallet of pastel colours as the sun began to exert itself. It was clear in our chosen location, with only a hint of breeze. Luckily, the breath of breeze moved a nice body of mist into our bay too. A bit of dawn mist is a great prerequisite for some evocative photos of the old dead trees now being exposed by the unusually low water level.
We walked a few kilometres along the water’s edge, taking photos as they presented. I managed to get a portrait of an obliging Little Pied Cormorant and a nice family shot of a Black Duck and her new bubs. Of interest were the old house stumps and a few fireplaces of the farmhouses that were inundated by the filling of Lake Tinaroo dam around 60 years. The lake has only fallen to current levels one other time since the dam was built, so there is a lot of historically interesting stuff appearing from the dropping lake.
During WWII, before the building of the dam, the area was the scene of many military camps for Australian and Allied soldiers. They used the thick jungle to practice warfare skills before going off to engage the Japanese in the Pacific theatre of that war. The shores are littered with bric-a-brac from that era. Apart from what seems like a lot of beer bottles, there are the rusted remnants of army helmets, army kit, old ammunition, buttons and the like being found every day.
We had the whole area to ourselves for several hours. As the sun began to blaze, and the morning grew hotter, we headed back for the vehicle, and home. Along the way we encountered an elderly chap with a metal detector. He was the only other person we had seen. We stopped and chatted awhile. He told us that he had found numbers of sets of dog tags in the receding foreshore mud. He was pleased to say that he had cleaned these and had been able to return them to the surviving descendants of the young soldiers who had lost them all those years ago as they prepared to battle the Japanese. Lest we forget.