I have been looking forward to sharing a bit more of what’s been happening on North Stradbroke Island since I shared the last glimpse a few months back.
Straddie has fast become the place I escape to as often as I can, and it also has fast become the place where I feel the most connected to my work and craft – photography.
Sometimes I’ll escape to the island on the weekends when I’m not travelling away on shoots, other times I may visit through the week if time allows.
So I thought I would share a personal visual diary into what it looks like when I come over to Straddie, so you too can see what I see!
There is something rather spiritual about travelling to a place over water. It’s cleansing and there is a sense of renewal once you arrive at your destination.
This is how it feels each and every time I park my car at the ferry terminal in Cleveland and walk onto the ferry, to start the journey over Moreton Bay to Straddie.
With each visit to the island I work – sometimes with my camera, sometimes just with my eyes.
I’m documenting and opening my heart to what is around me, both the big and the small. I’m aware and try to be completely in the moment, as I’m bringing together a forthcoming body of photographic work, created entirely on the island.
I walk off the ferry and lug my gear to a nearby grassy plot, where people park their ‘island cars’.
This is where I pick up ‘Dusty’ my 1971 Series II Land Rover which I found on Gumtree back in May. I have long loved old Land Rovers and as soon as I see her in the grassy plot I can’t help but smile and feel a sense of freedom.
There is always a chance that Dusty won’t start, but it’s never a problem. Someone always seems to appear out of nowhere to help, like some kind of Leyland Brothers adventure.
Though usually I just take my time with her. Things are slower on the island and nothing can be rushed or forced, which I long for when I’m not here.
It takes about 20 minutes to drive to Point Lookout where Timothy O and I have our place.
The landscape changes dramatically on the short drive, from dense leafy tropical, to dry bush with gum trees, then to coastal shrubby wetlands. You get both the bush and the beach here.
Stradbroke Island, also known as Minjerribah is actually a sand island, and was once one large island, until one night a wild cyclone hit and the island became two, north and south, separated by fast moving tidal water.
There is a whiteish track I like to pull over and go down, just off the main drag. I love how the sunlight bounces off the lightly coloured earth and back up into the landscape, making all the colours that bit more vibrant.
The weather is the thing which keeps me in the moment here the most. Being an island, the weather changes fast.
What was good in one moment, will be gone the next. So it’s best to make the most of every weather condition – even when it’s wet, it’s beautiful.
Arriving at the Straddie house is a really special feeling. Pulling up with Dusty and opening the front door and catching the fragrance of timber in the air is so comforting.
It’s a simple timber 70’s house, with a really clever use of glass and light. The light bounces around the house, making everything golden and warm.
The house is still very basic in its comforts, and I like it like that for now.
We have made only one change to the house, and that was adding ceilings to the bedrooms. I don’t want to rush the improvements, I want to understand the house first, observing how we live in it and how it makes us feel. Once you go forward, you can’t go back.
I always change out of what I’m wearing when I arrive, to completely wash the city off.
Lots of natural fabrics and textures in gentle tones.
One of my absolute favourite things to do, is to go collecting foliage at Adder Rock and to bring back home.
I take my Hasselblad camera and old snips in a Buku gathering basket from Papua New Guinea and head down the track to the coastal heath.
This is our local beach, Adder Rock, on low tide. I love exploring through the costal heath and walking barefoot along the cool sandy tracks, up on the cliffs of the rock.
The traditional owners of North Stradbroke Island, the Quandamooka people, say that Adder Rock is a special place for women. I believe that and would love to learn more about it.
The forms and graphic nature of the pandanus is something I’m really drawn to at the moment. So artful. An icon motif of Old World tropics.
Bringing nature inside always helps bring a space to life. And using only what is native makes so much sense.
The flora compliments the colour palette of the landscape, so you are gently reminded by a branch of banksia that you are at the beach.
Being so close to nature makes you really aware of what you live with and how you live.
All of the pieces in the house are mostly secondhand finds or are made from natural fibres and materials. Sisal rugs, cane tables, raffia lampshades, paper lanterns.
Low fi materials which work in a calm way together, without too much fuss.
When the light drops off a bit in the afternoon, I usually head back down to the beach again with my camera.
The tide would have changed, and the light would have changed, so really everything has changed.
Being at Straddie has given me the opportunity to study and capture nature in a way I have never been able to before, by observing and documenting the same landscape throughout the changing seasons and also through different weather.
As opposed to flying in and flying out of locations around the world, I am really starting to develop a relationship with the landscape here.
And then there is the sea. A whole other scape to be explored and be captivated by.
It’s always so emotional to watch the waves roll in, each one never the same.
The day usually ends like this, watching the last of the sunlight disappear, as the night air starts to fall.
There is always a sense of being so grateful to the island, and never taking any of this for granted.
I hope you enjoyed this personal post and feel as though you know the island that bit more.
I’ve made a ‘Mix Tape’ below for you of some current song on high rotation at Straddie – it’s a random mix.