About a month ago I did a slideshow presentation about the local wetland which are under threat by the Government who are thinking of putting a freeway right through them. The length of the presentation was roughly 5 minutes and in which I highlighted the different species of mammals, reptiles and birds which either live at the wetlands or use them at some stage or another.
About a week after the presentation, a reporter from one of the local papers asked me if I was willing to write about the wetlands and I agreed so here's the story about"my playground"
The unfortunate thing though and even though they asked me to make the story roughly around 400 words, they still cut it so if you feel like reading, here's the original:
As a child growing up in Cyprus, I spent most of my time playing in the paddocks with my favorite thing being turning over rocks and bark to see what lived underneath. Birdwatching was also a favorite past time and from a very early age I was able to recognise the calls of many different birds.
Earlier in the year, I was talking to a couple of friends about the time when I and my family moved in to Australia and they asked me about how I felt about the move with my response being "I lost my playground"
(I was thirteen when we moved to Australia and I went from playing in the paddocks to living in suburbia)
Some nine years ago I moved to Rosanna and Banyule Flats became my new "playground" for it is where I get a peace of mind, it is where I go to unwind at the end of the day and it is where I still find myself lifting bark to see what lived underneath.(unfortunately rocks are not that common)
Over the years I have come to identify the call of four different frogs, Over thirty species of birds live at or around the swampy area, Eastern Grey Kangaroos are now a common site and the not so common Wombat and Koala have also been spotted. Both the Brown and Tiger snakes also call the area home.
It is amazing how some nine years ago I first spotted the swans nesting at the lake and to this day, they still use the area to raise their family and for the first time this year, they actually raised two clutches. My fascination with snakes does go back to my childhood but now I have the fourth most venomous snake in the world to keep me amused and of course I am talking about the Tiger snake! The Tiger snake does demand respect and once it feels relaxed in your presence, it will then allow you to take the most incredible pics and over the years I have taken some incredible pictures of them. Unfortunately the Brown snake is proving to be a little shy.
For me, photography is more than just taking a picture for it is about how I see the world and perhaps about how I would like the world to be.
I first bought my first digital camera around six years ago and now I have two of them and a whole collection of lens ranging from wide angle to micro to telephoto.
People often ask me what kind of photography I am into and I respond with "nature" to city scapes to street photography and basically, I just enjoy taking pictures!
Being really honest though, I enjoy taking pictures of nature which includes insects, birds, animals and the list goes on...
Over the years I have been spotted taking pictures at Banyule Flats in the middle of winter and before sunrise. Other times I have people stop and ask me what I am taking pictures of especially when my subject is a tiny insect 2-3 inches above the ground and which requires me to lay flat on the ground!
Being a Nature Photographer, one needs to have lots of patience and on many days I have had to sit still for over an hour allowing my subject to relax.
Recently, I had the pleasure of photographing a female kangaroo which allowed me to get really close and I am talking about ten feet close. On a different day, I tried to get close a group and a female with a Joey in pouch attacked me but backed away when she was two feet close to me.
Three years ago I decided to make the move from cooking to photography so I enrolled at NMIT and as a part time student in photography and for the first time this year I entered the APPA awars(Australian Professional Phography Awards) and I entered three images. One image of a white poppy, one image of a dragon fly and an image of the very common dandeline and to my surprise, they each won a silver award, one with silver distinction. Of course it was the image of the very common dandeline that won the most points.
Unfortunately, I still cook for a living but I am looking forward to the day when I put the knives down and pick up the camera for good!
So here I am writing about my playground but it's not just mine for there are many people who use the area. Some on bikes, some walk their dog, some just having time out by themselves and this is why Banyule Flats is so precious!
Banyule Flats is more than a playground for over the years it has allowed me to take some incredible pictures but it's also the home for so many animals, insects, birds and the list is endless!
Banyule Flats is the only area within suburbia where wild kangaroos live and breed and there is no other area in or around Melbourne where both wildlife and humanity live side by side and even though for now it is my playground, I look forward to the day when I make the move to the country and where playgrounds have no borders or fences...