Tasmania 4: Rural Wanderings

One of my favourite things about road trips is not so much the destination (although these can be great fun), but the journey. And I’m not just talking about the process (although I do love that too- driving new terrain is a favourite past-time, and if the company is good (and here it was spectacular) then the whole thing is a happy medley). I’m talking about the opportunity just to stop willy-nilly and enjoy whatever surprises the landscape has to offer.

Given that we drive a fairly large portion of Tasmania in our six-day circuit, these little surprises were a regular feature of the journey. I’ve already showcased one such little surprise, the church in the field, in Buckland. Here’s a smattering more.

Those who know my photography by now have worked out that I’m an absolute sucker for road shots. Love ‘em. The way they lead the eye, teasingly, across a landscape, or into a vanishing point, giving both a visual sense of motion, and a soulful sense of travelling. They’re reminiscent as subjects of the very feeling they evoke- that of moving from one place to another. And, of course, they’re the archetypal road-trip image. Can’t go wrong.

I snapped the top image of a road snaking down through gentle country somewhere an hour or two north of Hobart, coming down off the Great Western Tiers. The contrast between bright fields and somewhat patchy sky add drama to the view, and the road guides the viewer through the scene.

In a similar vein, on our second day we found ourselves south of Swansea on the way up the east coast, beneath a dark and brooding sky which threatened rain at every turn. The road was largely empty of traffic and the mood was quite desolate in its own way. Tassie was drier than either of us were expecting, and the fields were full of yellow-white grass which was a lovely counterpoint to the dark clouds. I took a little detour into a field we were passing (which required an involved negotiation of a pair of barbed wire fences at the bottom of a little ditch- quite the delicate operation with an expensive DSLR camera and associated lenses…) to frame up this shot of a gum tree in a field, accompanied by a cattle track. The otherwise-dull light was made more interesting by upping the contrast and saturation for a somewhat artificial but (in my humble opinion) engaging image. This next image was snapped feet away in a different direction, and turned into a high-contrast black-and-white photo to emphasize the mood of the gusty wind in the hay.

Sometimes the light just works out, even when you’re not in any particular location, and this can make the simplest of subjects turn quite dramatic. Part way through an afternoon sprint across the north of the island, the blue sky was dripping with saturated colour behind my polarizing filter, transforming quite the ordinary tree in the ordinary field at the roadside into a set of photographs worth indulging in:

Given my exhortation of road photography above, the next two images need no justification, save to point out that they were taken about forty-five minutes outside Launceston in some beautiful countryside, again beneath that un-ignorably blue sky. The clouds were a great balance to break up the texture above.

Meanwhile, this next landscape was taken at near-full zoom standing in almost exactly the same spot as the above two photos (perhaps a little off to one side to avoid passing trucks)- but shot at right-angles out towards the line of hills in the middle distance. The landscape was one I could have explored for far longer had I the time.

And finally, on the same afternoon but a couple of hours and several hundred k’s further on, these two shots of Mt. Roland were begging to be taken. In the first shot in particular I loved the faint rows of cut grass leading the eye up to the mountain. The blue sky against the green fields and that textured rock made this a shot I was really chuffed with.

All up, lots of great touring to be had in Tasmania. Destinations aside, I’m pretty sure I could go back and just drive around taking photos of random aspects. That’s the sort of place Tasmania is. We basically spent six days looking out of the car window going- ‘oh wow, isn’t that beautiful!’ You may have noticed, but this is the nth post I’ve put up now exhorting you to go visit. Taken the hint yet? Get there!

Up soon: Wineglass Bay

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