29 April, 2014

The one that got away

Last weekend it was that time of the year again. The first Sunday after Easter and we all know what that means, right? Well, all the local runners do!
Not long to go!
Yes, The Geelong Half Marathon was on again with a record-breaking field of over 900 runners, or so I heard. But this time, for the first time in five years, I wasn't running. Having been sidelined by a degenerative knee issue, I haven't been able to run for over six months.
On the plus side however, it does mean that for once I finally got to play photographer at the start of the race. The day before, I took a stroll around most of the course. The signs were up, the kilometre marks had all been freshly painted on the track as per usual and all was in readiness.
The calm before the storm
All that was needed were the runners. And by 8am Sunday morning they had arrived in droves.
As I took up a prime position on top of the Moorabool Street Bridge, the competitors milled around, completed their warm ups, checked their watches and made any last minute preparations.
Then finally, some five minutes late, the horn blared out and the race began. Spectators cheered and yelled encouragement and those of us on the bridge snapped away.

The field already beginning to spread out
After a few minutes of frenetic photography, I was able to make my way off the bridge and onto the banks of the Barwon to watch as the runners made their way under the Moorabool Street Bridge, around Belmont Common and off towards Breakwater.

Heading to Breakwater about 2.5km in
The weather for the race was perfect. A clear, crisp 10°C. A little chilly on the starting line, but much more conducive to a comfortable run and a good time at the finish line. And of course, as I watched the runners pass, I spotted this guy:

There's always one!
In previous years we've had runners in camel costumes and various other novelty costumes, this year it seems was the year of the Viking. I don't know who he was or what his agenda might have been, but he certainly added some interest to the field.
At this point I was able to wait just long enough for the lead runners to appear on the opposite side of the river headed towards Fyansford, before I had to depart for other duties. As a result, I do not have any finishing photos or any of the results however the latter can be found on the Geelong Cross Country Club's website.
And so that was it for another year. I have discovered that I really don't like being a spectator and with a little luck by this time next year I may at least be running again.


01 April, 2014

Just another day on the Barwon

The weather on Saturday was sensational. Sunny and warm with a slight breeze. The perfect day for a paddle and some photography, so here are the results.
I was on the water at St Albans by 1pm and headed down to Tait's Point. The birds were out and about, as was a farmer feeding cattle. As I headed towards the lower breakwater I spotted something I hadn't seen over the Barwon before. Skydivers!

Skydivers just visible in the distance
As I watched, a light aircraft zoomed overhead and four parachutes drifted down. I paddled on hoping for a better angle and a closer shot, but didn't have any success.
 I continued my journey and did the usual lift and drag around the breakwater. A little further downstream I met up with another paddler who was heading up for a spot of our common hobby - geocaching.

Expansive views across Lake Connewarre
Together we headed down to Tait's Point and then across to a place which I've often seen but never been to before - The Island. This is an outcrop of land which juts into Lake Connewarre near Tait's Point but is not (except in times of flood I suspect) wholly separate from the land surrounding the lake. I have not so far managed to find much information about "The Island" except that it may have been here on 9th November, 1874 that a shooting accident occurred which left a young boy dead - something of which I was unaware as I climbed up the slope.
At its highest point, The Island rises to about 15m above sea level, meaning that from this point, the surrounding views are expansive.

Lake Connewarre looking north west from The Island
Having found what we came for (ie the cache), we took a few moments to snap some photos of the lake which on a clear day like this was sparkling, before heading back to the kayaks for the paddle back up to the lower breakwater where my companion had a second cache to find. At this point we parted ways and I headed back to town whilst he headed back downriver.
When I arrived, the cattle I had passed earlier were chewing away at the hay the farmer had distributed for them and were quite happy to watch from the bank as I snapped some shots. The carp which had been jumping out of the water throughout my paddle were not so obliging.
Cows and calves
Despite the mild conditions, there was still just enough of a breeze to keep the windmills turning, although whether they are still used to pump water from the river I can't tell.
I don't think the truck is going anywhere soon!
 As I neared the water ski club at the end of Wilsons Road, I was overtaken by one of the locals who was out in a craft of a rather different sort to that usually seen on this part of the river. Rather than the roar of large engines, this little boat quite definitely "chugged" along.
Out for a cruise

Fortunately for my ease of paddling and perhaps a little surprising given the weather, there were no speedboats out at all. Consequently I had a quiet paddle up this section of the river with no disturbances, although by this stage (heading for 20km) the blisters were starting to make themselves felt as were the muscles across my shoulders.
The scenery was the usual mix of farms and historical structures which can be found throughout Breakwater on one side of the river and Marshall on the other.
The aqueduct
One activity which did seem to be particularly popular as it was by now late in the afternoon was fishing. Every little gap in the reeds with public access seemed to be occupied by someone fishing from the bank.
Finally, by 5:45pm I was at the upper breakwater and well and truly ready for a lift home.

The chimneys of Haworth's and Fowler's tanneries at Breakwater
Just another ordinary day on the Barwon really.