Tag Archives: snake

Desert. Snake. Lizard. Fremen. Me

Besides the odd strange visitor like yours truly, the desert is home to some fascinating creatures. Creatures highly skilled in desert survival. Snakes. Lizards. Spiders. Scorpions. Chameleons. And I am sure I caught a glimpse of a Fremen from Frank Herbert’s masterpiece Dune.

Surviving in the deadly inhospitable desert requires centuries of finely honed skills. As much as I like to call desert home, reality is I would not last long! At dawn and dusk the desert is the most magical place on this planet. At noon it is a harsh hot deadly inhospitable place where sand temperatures can easily reach 75 degrees and the sun kills you by dehydration. You do not notice at first because you do not sweat much, there is no moisture and the warm wind and sun evaporates the sweat from your skin. You do not realise you are loosing precious water, you just taste the dry desert in your mouth. You are getting killed by the desert! I can pretend I am a Fremen, call desert home all day long but I would die in an instant compared to the experts of the desert! Experts that fortunately I managed to get a few photos of:

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Classic windswept dunescape, just outside Swakopmund. I am sure there is a Fremen here!

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Sidewinder snake. Small highly venomous 30cm long desert adapted snake. Buries itself in the sand and waits for prey. Sidewinding movement not only means it can climb sand dunes it also means the least amount of skin touch the warm sand during forward movement.

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Web footed gecko. Practically transparent as it has no pigment in the skin, rather unpractical for a desert creature. 20 seconds of sun kills it right away. So it adapts and buries itself in the sand using webby feet and only comes out at night.

Photographer (me), pretending to be a Fremen at the ‘Moon Landscape’ outside Swakopmund, now to be renamed Flemming’s Mars Landscape as this looks much more like Mars!

I shot the snake and gecko images on a trip with a wildlife expert who spots the tracks and finds the animals in the dunes. You have little chance of spotting these yourself unless you step on a buried sidewinder. We found 4 sidewinder in one morning, as I am a big snake lover I was very thrilled and very happy to get some snakes in the wild shots! I am impressed by their speed, I was running up a dune next to it trying to keep up, focus, compose and shoot while not tripping over my own legs. Great fun!

Same wildlife expert told me that once the sun in Namibia has burned your skin, you are hooked. Addicted. Gotta come back. Soon. I believe it. Happened to me. Addicted. Hooked. Gotta come back! Soon! Magic of the Namib. Namib Dreaming. And I still have hundreds of desert images to develop and show you from this first trip! Capturing the African desert is my new project!

Randomness

  • Africa is not for sissies! Neither is African Rugby. Was watching a rugby game at Jo’burg airport and 9:54 minutes into the rugby game (a game where players larger than Hulk crash into each other at full speed protected only by much-too-small T-shirts and shorts) two players have already been seriously injured.
  • Africa is not for sissies! You can only really rely on your family and friends so there is a very tight bond and people really help each other. In many ways it’s good, you have to really take control of your own life. No expecting society to do everything for you. There are downsides of course.  Government and Police can be an up and down experience. Public transport is your feet. Another police story I heard is a person calling in a crime and the officer on the phone says “Can’t help, I don’t know that street”. The person has to explain that “it is the same street your police station is on, you’re in the street already!!!!”
  • My escape from the next Danish Winter may very well be to a Namibian farm, family of my friend, where I have been offered work. Something I may seriously do! Stay tuned as this blog switches from landscape photography to tutorials on farming and feeding farm animals!

Gibb River Road and back on track

Back on track, going up the Gibb River Road on Wednesday. Not the way I wanted but it’s better than nothing (I feckin’ bloody hope so!) and as lovely and paradisey tropical Broome is, it is better than staying here doing nothing. Did do some nice shooting tonight – at Gantheume Point for the people who know Broome. Sunrise on Cable Beach this morning was feckin’ lovely as well.

Over and out for at least a week; gone bush again!

PS. I’m staying at Beaches of Broome, an outstanding new backpackers in resort style right by Cable Beach. Best bit: The snake in the internet room! Didn’t get a photo unfortunately, but as I used the net this morning a small cute python entered the room, wiggled all the way across the floor and found a nice shady spot in the cable tray. I love snakes and snakes coming in to read their email – can’t beat that!

Lamington National Park, O’Reillys and mountain sunsets!

In the words of Powderfinger – “watching the sunset”

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One of the wonders of staying at O’Reillys – sunsets!

Yep…sunsets here on the mountain are crazy good (click the picture to see larger size) One of the two places I visited in this weeks tour was Lamington National Park south of Brisbane where I stayed at O’Reillys Guesthouse right on top of a mountain with a breathtaking view (sunset above shot from my balcony, yeah I know, pure hell living in paradise – again!)

Lamington National Park is yet another World Heritage Area for this trip, I seem to go through quite a few of them! It is about 20 500 hectares with mountains up to 1200 meters high and the park has an enormous variety of plant and animal life since the rainforest varies from temperate forest in the higher altitudes to warm subtropical rainforest in the valleys. When you walk around the park you can easily see the change in vegetation and feel the changes in temperature, in some places the changes occur from one step to the next going from rainforest to temperate forest with eucalyptus trees (that cannot survive in a rainforest) in the space of a few meters.

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Lamington National Park – view of “Luke’s Farm” area and mountains

O’Reillys is one of the two guesthouses up here in the crisp clean mountain air and was opened in 1926 by the Irish O’Reilly family. It is still run by the O’Reillys now in their third generation and has one of the friendliest and nicest staffs I’ve ever met. O’Reillys has such good bird and wild life and such a good location overlooking the mountains (all the sunset shots are from my balcony) that guests from Binna Burra (the other guesthouse) are brought here during the day in a bus to look at the birds and the view (and where they might wanna stay the next time they’re up here, bad business decision by the Binna Burra crew bringing their punters to O’Reillys!) There’s no resort feeling staying here despite the 72 rooms and the flashy website, instead it’s more like you’re private guests at the O’Reillys family house. As an introvert this took some getting used to I must admit but everyone is so incredibly friendly and like me loves nature, wildlife and usually photography as well and really treats you like you’re family. And the sunsets here are really out of this world and some of the best I have seen, really phenomenal!

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My favorite staff member is shown on the right (as always, click for larger size) with a carpet python (on a carpet haha): wildlife guide and photographer Glen Trelfo who was lived on the mountain and worked for O’Reillys for 27 years – and also filmed nature and wildlife documentaries for BBC and others. What a brilliant man, an absolute joy to talk photography with him and the great and funny stories of his many years of doing still- and video photography. He also did a snake demo where we got to experience and touch the rather large but very docile and lovely carpet python shown in the picture (I love snakes and to hold this big python was a treat). What a top bloke, so nice to meet you Glen.

From O’Reillys there are a larger number of rainforest walks you can do (either on your own or guided tours you can join) and walking in a rainforest is always interesting (remember to watch where you’re going, what you step on – and stay on the paths…extremely easy to get very very lost!). For every step there are new trees, plants and birds to observe. Photographing this 360 degree experience is hard though,  you literally cannot photograph the forest for all the trees! Here’s a few tries, many more new shots at my gallery.

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Eucalyptus trees (“gum trees” as we aussies call them)

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Big black booyong tree reaching for the sky

And after a good day of bushwalking I recommend a drink and watching the gorgeous setting sun (see below) over the mountains before the O’Reillys ring the dinner bell (they actually do this!) and it’s time for a bit of tucker!

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Randomness

  • For the Danes: I’ve been here more than 6 weeks and haven’t met a single Dane (well it’s a rather large country) so I was a bit surprised to catch this bit of conversation and very thick dialect at breakfast at O’Reillys: 
    “…deeeet’ møj’ ande’ledes!”
    Heh, There were at least 3 Danish couples some of them with their kids staying here at O’Reillys so all of a sudden it’s natural to hear “du skal komme og se fuglene” while having ‘brekky’ as we aussies call breakfast. And suddenly I had to remember whether to say “hihowyagoin” or “goddaw” – bloody confusing 😀
  • The footy finals (both AFL and Rugby is called footy) were great fun although not very exiting games. Geelong won the AFL final by more than a 100 point margin and humiliated Port Adelaide and The Melbourne Storm totally dominated Manly in the Rugby League final. The real winner was the Queensland XXXX breweries though, had quite a few of those beers during both finals! You know of course this joke already; why the beer is called XXXX (pronounced 4X) – it’s ‘cos queenslanders can’t spell ‘beer’ !
  • People named ‘Housecleaning’…not that they aren’t always very friendly and polite but…arrrrgh you annoy me. I’m sorry but do you make an effort to always clean my room while I’m in? I sleep in, you knock on my door at 8.05am…I leave early and come back at 1.30pm – you knock on the door at 1.45pm! Argggh! We clearly need to work out a schedule, ‘housecleaning’ and me! Now that we’re at it, no one in the world sleeps like that anyway – so why wrap the sheets and blankets so airtight around the entire bed? With ‘housecleaning’ out the door, you can then be sure that someone named ‘mini bar’ is knocking on your door in a few minutes! I do miss living in my own flat (although wouldn’t mind it if ‘house cleaning’ could stop by my flat, just once a week would be great! ‘Mini bar’ would actually be welcome as well – I’m such a hypocrite.)

Quote of the day:

My name is Hiro. I’m from the future.

– from the new TV show ‘Heroes’. I gotta try saying that someday when people ask “so where are you from?”. I’m from the future!