Monday, 11 January 2010

Inheriting a secret river


About 45 minutes North of Sydney by intercity train, flows The Hawkesbury River which empties into the Pacific Ocean through the Brisbane Waters and Broken Bay. As it meanders inland, the Hawkesbury and its tributaries provide much of the fresh water that irrigates the crops that feed the city.

Many of the settlements on the Hawkesbury are isolated and, being within the confines of the Brisbane Waters National Park, are not accessible by car. A private charter company runs a series of ferries much used by locals and tourists alike. Ann, (Sydney Meandering) and I hopped aboard the Riverboat Postman as he made his deliveries.


As these images show, the people of the Hawkesbury are a special breed who would shrivel and expire in the hustle, bustle and competitiveness that is today's Sydney. And this is not just a recent phenomenon.

The Secret River by Kate Grenville provides a fictionalised appreciation of the grit and determination required of the early settlers of our colony AND the early explorers of the Hawkesbury. For those interested in the historical background to this novel, Searching for the Secret River is also extremely rewarding.

Tomorrow, we shall see where these folk live and take a closer look at the glories that are the Lower Hawkesbury.


Part of the Sundays in my City community.

36 comments:

Lois said...

They look like they really enjoy what they do! Nice series of pictures Julie. They make me feel like I was there with you.

brattcat said...

I love these all, but particularly the bookends. Traveling by ferry this past summer, I saw so many similar faces and postures. The people I saw had American southern accents rather than the Australian 'lilt' but it fascinates me more to note the similarities than the differences. People who live and work on and near the water do have a different way of being in the world. Beautifully rendered in both word and image, Julie.

altadenahiker said...

Yes! My kind of series. Amazon has the books, by the way. (Why no swimming in the river? Because the water is used for irrigation?)

Rinkly Rimes said...

Yes, a trip I've done once or twice. It's unusual to come across isolation in this day and age. I love your first character.Wiry and resilient for sure.

Vera said...

What open-faced people they are, looking well balanced and content.

James said...

You did a great job of capturing these people. They all look so natural.

Riet said...

What lovely pictures you took of these people enjoying themselves

Adoption Of Jane Ug-LBC said...

Looks so Peaceful there! Beautiful Photos!

Joan Elizabeth said...

You have really captured the difference between these people and the suited city crowd. I have not read the The Secret River but I have read Susan Duncan's Salvation Creek which is an autobiography of living in that area ... gave me an appreciation of how different these island based communities are.

BTW the Nepean is the same river as the Hawkesbury, not a tributary. It just changes it's name somewhere after Penrith. I think different explorers discovered different ends of it before they knew it was one and the same. It's one of my favourite rivers.

myletterstoemily said...

i love the face of the first gentleman with the blue
cap. bet he has some stories...his dog, too!

Julie said...

Joan, need to discuss that "tributary" point. Shall do so over at Wayfaring.

Shelle said...

Glad you joined...I love this group. I can't believe you're up at the Hawkesbury now. My Dad & Mum skiied up there, Dargle from before I was born. We went up every Saturday til I was about 16.

Tulsa Gentleman said...

I have never been in Australia and probably have the same stereotypical image as many Americans. Kangaroos and Crocodile Dundee is about it. Just as your image of Oklahoma is maybe cowboys and Indians.

Lately I have been following several Australian blogs and am most interested in just the sort of thing that you are posting -- the real Australia in all its diversity. Thank you.

Julie said...

Shelle: Hah! Small world, although you were further up the Hawkesbury around Lower Portland if I am correct.

Bill: That is one of the wonderful things about blogging. You make a connection with real people living in the area and find out what things are really like. I love this means of communicating. Straight to the source. Sadly enough, the image that springs to my mind about Oklahoma is that devastated building! Sorry to say that. However, our coming together and that of other bloggers, will broaden our appreciation and one day stop people reacting in the way that young man did out of fear and ignorance. End of sermon!

In Three Rivers, Michigan said...

A wonderful group of portraits, people who live their lives out of doors in relative peace. I'll be interested to hear more!

(Sermon all you want!)
Three Rivers Daily Photo

toledonative said...

I'm still boggled by the fact that there is what appears to be a functioning pay phone - complete with phone book! Haven't seen one of those in years around these parts (these parts being NW Ohio in the US).

Mostly these are reminding me what summer feels like - this time of year I start to miss being able to go outside in short sleeves!

Ann said...

Thought you weren't using these till next week.

Amazing how differently people see things. I have shots of all the same people and they are totally different to yours, even the last one of the 3 blokes.

Julie said...

Yes, I wasn't going to but found that they were easier to work into a series for this week than the tram ones were. They require much more research.

I can't wait to see your interpretation. I have three posts lined up for this week, so next week is all yours. I will definitely have the trams posts ready by then.

Julie said...

ToledoNative: Welcome! One of the problems with living along the river (and there aren't all that many problems!) is that mobile (cell phone) reception is patchy or non-existent. I agree it is quaint to have the phone book there and the booth not tagged or smashed. It is different down here in the big smoke!

Vicki said...

Wonderful character studies, Julie. Wonderful characters, too. I can relate to these people when it comes to the hustle and bustle of city life. It's like Kryptonite.

Woody said...

Great story with beautiful photos - I'm looking forward to the follow-up!

Mrs. Lovely said...

You are a very talented photographer!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Your pictures really show the flavor of the area. Great job.

Thanks for sharing your City.

jj

Marka said...

Nice preface to tomorrow's post. I'm looking forward to it. Cheers!

brainella said...

Such great faces. Love it. Candid and vivid.

Marla said...

I love your pictures. They seem to really capture the spirit of your writing. Thanks for stopping by my blog so I could follow you here. I look forward to more.

Nancy C said...

You have indeed chiseled a voice here, and I'm grateful to hear it. Gorgeous, natural, human shots.

Julie said...

Just realised, I have forgotten to answer one of the questons.

Altadenahiker (Karen) asked why no swimming. I suspect it has nothing to do with being used for irrigation as at the point of the sign we were still in salt water. It has nothing to do with bacteria. There was a problem about 5 years ago that wiped out the oyster farmers but that was specific to that crop.l

I think swimming is banned here purely for saftety reasons and should read "No swimming off this pier". There is too much traffic. Primarily, it is the local council covering its butt.

Unknown Mami said...

Your pictures are amazing. I almost feel like I am really there.

Olivier said...

une superbe série de portraits

Julie said...

Thank you, Olivier - but what happened to that magnifique beard?

Sonya said...

Wow your photos are so crisp and vibrant and beautoful! The first one is my favorite! Wow thanks so much for posting this!

VP said...

Beautiful post, it is comforting to know that these places do exist. I guess that with some patience you could find them everywhere and, as you say, locals tend to be of the same breed. Great portraits of people and, at the same time, of a place.

Serge Cornillet said...

Always a pleasure to visit your site, so many pictures full of life.
See U.
Serge

Jilly said...

Marvellous series of photos. Real characters. I have The Secret River and it's nice to see it illustrated. Love the ol' cattle dog and owner in the first photo.

freefalling said...

I just read my first Kate Grenville novel this year - picked up in an op shop in Noosa - yes, they DO have them there! - well, technically it was Tewantin.
It was Lilian's Story and I loved it.
Gunna see if I can pick up a few more of hers from ebay.