Old Photos

It has been wet and windy in Southern England.  It’s probably been wet and windy elsewhere, too.  After a hectic autumn, my partner and I have spent the last few weekends at home, mooching.  During one of our mooches, I wondered aloud where some of our old photos had got to.

We had some great photos of bushwalks we did in Australia and I wanted them.

I realised, in answering a comment on my Requiem for a Ricoh R7 post, that we have only been using a digital camera since about October 2005, when my sister gave me her old Olympus because she wanted to upgrade to something more compact and that had *fewer* confusing buttons.  (And here I am looking for things that have *more* confusing buttons).

Do you remember the days when a camera was a rare thing?

Before the Olympus, I never owned a camera.  When I went on trips, I would buy a disposable camera and husband my photographs oh-so carefully.  I often husbanded so well that it would be months after a holiday that I would finally finish the film in the camera and get the photos developed.  Imagine that – fewer than 36 photos from a weekend trip.  Actually, we took one holiday – a two week camping, hiking and driving adventure from Perth in Western Australia, down to the Great Australian Bight, across the Nullarbor and into South Australia and Adelaide – from which we had fewer than 36 photos. These days we have something like 200 photos from a weekend, of which about 60 are ‘keepers’.

I was so sure we had photos from a hike up to Mt Mitchell in the Main Range National Park and I wanted to find those photos.  We had taken photos of a spunky skink, a spiky sunflower-type wildflower and the unique peak of Mt Cordeaux – another mountain just across Cunningham’s Gap from Mt Mitchell.  These are all fairly typical photography subjects for us: the local fauna, the local floral and mountains.  Lots of photos of mountains.

Then I remembered: the photos I was after were in our pre-digital days.  They were only in albums, tucked carefully away in my partner’s parents’ house.  After we had reached the summit of Mt Mitchell, there was but one photo left.  Because the bushwalk was an up-and-back track (rather than a circular one), we’d seen and photographed the interesting things on the way up already.  This meant I could use the last photo for something I wanted a photo of but would never have wasted a picture on:- the steps taking us up to the summit.  As we were on the last photo and that camera also had pictures from our trip in Cairns a few months earlier, I took a photo of the steps to use the film up.  About 5 metres on from the steps, we encountered an enormous python with gorgeous markings sprawled across the path.  Oh, the recriminations heaped upon my head for using that last photograph on some steps.

I was also absolutely certain we had some fabulous photographs of kookaburras and I wanted them.  My partner said casually, “They’re probably on one of the CDs of the backups of your computer that we did.  Where else would they be?”  And, of course (oh, this is so aggravating), he was right.

Kookaburra sits on our old Hills Hoist ...

Kookaburra sits on our old Hills Hoist ...

But along with the photos of the kookaburras, I found 58 (give or take) photos of a sunset from a lookout near Witches Creek Falls, Mt Tamborine.  I started laughing when I saw these photos.  “Remember these?” My partner looked puzzled, briefly, and then recalled them.  We had walked to a lookout to watch the sun set during one of our laziest ever holidays.   The lookout was to Queensland’s ‘Scenic Rim’, an arc of mountains south west of Brisbane, where we also spent a lot of time.  While at the lookout, I’m sure there was a bit of both of us wishing we’d gone up to those mountains instead of to much tamer Tamborine (it’s nice enough but not very satisfactory for active bushwalkers like us; the trails are too short, all less than 4kms or so).  My partner has a thing for sunsets.  He can’t stop taking photos of them and he always justifies his excessive phototaking with, “But the light kept changing!”

And that was the moment of my epiphany: with a digital camera, he could just keep snapping away to his heart’s delight and then dump the photos onto my laptop and forget about them until 4 years later.  Brilliant.

The task of sorting through the sunset photos for some keepers is too much for me at the moment.  I’ll show you some (but not 58) when I can work up the energy to be sufficiently discriminating.

Oh, and Queenslanders – the walks from Cunningham’s Gap to either Mt Mitchell (left hand side of the road if you are standing with your back to Qld and facing into NSW – you do have to cross the highway from the picnic ground / car park to find the start of the walk…) or Mt Cordeaux (right hand side of the road as above etc leaving directly from the carpark) are fantastic, easy walks very accessible from Brisbane as a day trip.  I like Mt Cordeaux best, because it’s a walk through rainforest and then emerging onto an exposed summit – wonderful place for lunch.  Mt Mitchell is a great and very easy uphill stroll for about 5 kms but is very exposed and so not great during the height of summer.  Oh, and on your way back to BrisVegas, stop in Rathdowney Aratula * for a burger.  You won’t regret it.

* UPDATE / EDIT / CORRECTION: Oh, I am such a LIAR.  You will regret going to Rathdowney if you are heading back to BrisVegas from Cunningham’s Gap – it’s in the opposite direction and will set you back about 2 hours.  The place to stop for a burger is Aratula.  Still, you should go to Rathdowney sometime, and *then* onto Mt Barney.  Mt Barney is great.



  1. I’ve seen photos from those disposable cameras and am usually amazed at the quality for such a low-tech thing. With all your hikes and camp-outs, you probably plenty to enjoy besides finding the picture perfect scene 😉

    I feel like I’ve always been taking photos but my lack of methodology (or discipline) meant I had many many rejects after a trip or event. I remember reading a National Geographic photographer explain that film was cheaper than airfare, an excuse I used for my excessively large bag of Fuji film.

    Your descriptions of Australia always make me want to book tickets…


  2. I still save ticket stubs and brochures even though I haven’t made a scrap book since 2004. I used to be quite careful of which photo I took too and one or two rolls of film was about all I’d have after a vacation.

    Now, I take so many photos for the blog that if I didn’t cook or go out for the entire year, I’d still have enough photo sets to post every day. Frankly, it’s a little exhausting. But on the flip side, I seem to be able to recall tastes and memories better since I’ve documented so much of it.


  3. nikkipolani
    Thanks! Indeed, there are often more distractions than photo-taking.

    I know about the airfare thing – despite taking almost 3000 photos between us, I and my sisters regret not taking *enough* photos of our family when we travelled to VN. An excuse to go again, yes, but when? and cost?

    wandering chopsticks
    I’m actually getting back into scrap-booking! The key is to do it while one is travelling, so that it does not become a mammoth task once home again…

    Yes, documentation. I regret not documenting / not being able to document what those first few months felt like when we arrived in UK. But the other side of that, as you point out, is exhaustion, indeed.


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