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ZoeFest 2009 Australia Mission Beach

Babinda Boulders: Slippery When Wet

I made two excursions to Babinda Boulders.  It’s located in a park in the jungle midway between Cairns and Mission Beach, Australia.  Rapids run through beautiful curvy rock formations carved by the river as well as rain erosion.  The first visit was upon arrival in Australia. Claudine and I were anxious to shoot and stopped by there on the way to Mission Beach after flying into Cairns from Auckland, NZ.  There is about a mile of paved paths running high above the river bank to give you several lookout points over the beautiful rocks.  We reached the end of the trail overlooking a vast stretch of boulders with rapids running through them and cascading in small waterfalls.  Kids were everywhere jumping from boulder to boulder and over the stream as well.  Danger signs were everywhere – “Extremely Slippery, People have died here !”   With all the kids jumping from boulder to boulder, how dangerous could it be?  So we ventured out.  Of course, I find a wet patch and proceed to fall on my ass. It was like walking on ice! The signs were not joking.  So we gingerly wandered among the boulders trying to find private places to shoot.  In most cases, we had just a few minutes opportunity to shoot before onlookers materialized.  However, even with those limitations, I love the images we got – especially the ones of her curled up in these gorgeous womb like carvings in the rock.

The next day I went on a scouting trip of some locations for shooting later in the week and Rebecca came along for the adventure and also some shooting if we found some places.  Josephine Falls was gorgeous, but too crowded.  We were near Babinda Boulders and thought Rebecca might enjoy seeing it. Plus, there was a whole section I had not seen the day before, and it might not be as crowded to shoot in the areas I had been. We went back to the area Claudine and I had shot in.  It was not as crowded as the day before and we wandered around looking for shooting locations.  I warned Becca about the slippery rocks.  She thought it would be cool to shoot by the water by jumping down about 4 feet  into this cubby hole by the water. I was nervous, but off she jumped…..annnnd slipped right off the little rock ledge and into the rapids.  She was caught in a shoot of water barely clutching the rock walls before being swept down stream. I jumped down in the same cubby hole, slipping myself and it took all my strength to steady myself on the slippery rock and pull her out against the current. Miraculously, the sarong she had on didn’t get ripped off her by the current.  So now we are holding on to each other stuck in this cubby hole, just big enough for the both of us, with the rock ledge we need to get out 4 feet up.  So, I steadied myself and pushed her up the ledge and she was out.  But now I was stuck. It was too slippery for me to get any kind of footing to get out. Luckily two Aussie teenagers came the rescue. One holding on to me to pull me out and the other holding on to his mate to prevent him from slipping down into the hole with me.  Without them, it would have been a loooonggg wait because nobody was around.  So we were both bruised and banged up, but nothing major.  We had lost the confidence in remaining safe in the area, so we departed for the upper part of the river.  Here, the water pools into a small lake before being channeled into the rapids below. Rebecca went swimming in the pool with me shooting at a distance with a 300mm lens.  I couldn’t get closer due to the danger of slipping on the rocks to get to the pool and going swimming with my camera gear.  I think Rebecca enjoyed her skinny dipping and swimming except for one time putting her hand on a rock and finding a spider larger than her hand in a cubby hole. I love the ones we got with the light highlighting her form while swimming.  Later in the week, we visited a crocodile farm and learned that crocs are known to habitat bodies of water like the one Becca was swimming in.  hmm. That’s one bitey thing I’m glad we didn’t meet in the wild!

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