Coast and chaos, orange rocks and chilli squid

Third morning in a row I’ve woken as the suns first rays fill the chilly bedroom with light. The usual routine, a nice hot shower followed by breakfast and a tidy up, before hitting the road. Funny how I’m already writing ‘usual routine’ when this is only the 2nd morning.

First stop today will be Smithon Linc to drop off a poster. Smithon is pretty quiet so I don’t hang around. The Nut and surrounding Godfrey’s Beach is the next destination. I have read that there are some excellent rock formations with evidence of lava flow on the beach.

As I sit in the car driving there is total silence, except for the whuring hum of the engine, I think about time and space, I gaze around at the lush green paddocks and ploughed brown/red ones. I glance up at the open sky, layers of thin cloud stretch out over the horizon, long shadows are cast, and there’s not a lot of activity going on.

Western end of Godfrey's Beach, near The Nut. More of this wild landscape. And then there was more... Incredible!

I make the turn into Stanley off the Bass Hwy, and the short drive into a very quiet Stanley and straight towards the eastern end of the beach underneath the Nut nearby to the cemetery. There sits a large area of dark grey, almost black rock, twisted in all sorts of odd shapes. Little pools of sea water sit randomly within. The rock is very slippery as I gently navigate my way around taking many photographs as I go. There is no one around but just as I leave a family appears. One of the kids races towards the rocks and jumps up onto it and wooosch over she goes. There are tears and parent panic as is to be expected but the kid is alright.

I hop in the car and drive a short distance to the other side of Godfrey’s beach. Not a soul around. The clouds have disappeared and it’s a beautiful blue-sky day. The Nut looms in the near distance. I make my way around the rocks and can see what looks like a protrusion on the point. I head towards it in anticipation. I arrive to find the most extraordinary formations of rock that I think I have ever seen. Again its very dark in colour. They are nothing like the enormous grand scale of Tasman Island, but are twisted, smashed, bent upwards, as if an army at the face of another army have just met whilst in attack formation. A clashing of rock, fighting, pushing upwards. At one point they reach a crescendo’d peak.

Then I look further westwards and there are more of these violent chaotic formations. For the next hour or so I rock hop taking oodles of photographs. I think of Tasman Island and start to see mini landscapes with the formations. Mini versions of Tasman I think I mean. I think about the violent mark making of Yvonne Rees-Pagh’s recent prints. I think about compositions of violent energy and wild large-scale gestural drawing. My heart beats fast as I climb up more strange abstract rock formations. The winter sun sits deep in the sky making the shadowy crevices within the rocks a tonal fantasy world. Yes this place is exciting me in its extraordinariness. As the adrenaline subsides I make my way back to the car past lush green paddocks rolling up towards Highfield House.

Nearby to the rocks a massive tree has recently been culled, the top of the roots remain in the ground as well as a large part of the one of the lower sections. It sits on its side about 10 metres from the still embedded trunk. Strangely contorted in a very different manner to the rocks I’ve just looked at but just as compelling. I take some images but the light is no good.

Incredible tree stump Don Head strange waving rock formations, Rocky Cape Intense orange at Rocky Cape

I hop back in the car and drive to Devonport and Ulverstone to put up some more posters and take in a few more coastal scenes. It’s a bit of a drive and the rock hopping and lack of adrenaline in my body has taken its tool a bit so I am not really looking forward to being in the drivers seat for another hour and half, but I talk myself into it and once more I am hurtling down the Bass Hwy.

Lots of thinking time again about deep time and space, as well as the violence of the region all those millions and millions of years ago. I can’t really imagine it, perhaps I need to go and visit an active volcano to get a real sense of what it was once like. I have never thought this way about Tasman Island, and I wonder why without having to give myself and answer. I think about the coast and the violence that occurs there every day as the waves and wind bash into the shore, allowing this glimpse into the past through the rock formations remaining on the shoreline.

Before I know it I’m in Devonport dropping off another poster into the Linc before a quick visit to Mersey Bluff lighthouse. I don’t spend long, perhaps I should really be trying to get access to the rocks below. Anyway, I’m back in the car and a short drive to Don Heads. Another wow factor reveals itself to me. The upright standing columns of Don Head are strange to say the least. Why has this small rock formation remained standing in such an upright formation so silently on the edge of the liminal zone? Again there is hardly anyone around so I spend a bit of time wandering around the rocks taking lots of photographs and being seduced by the idea of very deep time.

Back in the car again, a quick stop to Ulverstone Linc to put up the last of my posters and I’m heading back to Rocky Cape. I arrive back at about 3.30ish, the sun is lower in the sky and golden orange hues of sunset have commenced. I take my camera around the rocks to explore. I wander through a section of low scrub and onto a small and secluded beach and there are some more extraordinary rock formations but this time saturated with bright orange tips all erupting out of the sand at 45 degrees. The orange of sunset makes them radiate. Some of the small rock formations are shaped like waves and really are quite mind boggling. What strange violent geological occurrences developed these light coloured rocks the way they are? More questions and deep thoughts to ask Ian, the geomorphologist, when he arrives tomorrow. I really look forward to spending a few days just looking around Rocky Cape.

As I slowly wander back to the shack I come across a neighbour from a few shacks away. He is bringing in his freshly caught dinner, 2 rather large squid and a flathead, we say hello to each other before he asks me if I like squid, yes is my reply, would you like one, absolutely. He picks it up by the head and hands it over to me. Ekk, what the hell am I meant to do with this. I grab it off him carefully looking at how he is handling it. I mimic his handling, say thanks and head back to the shack thinking to myself, what now. I drop it in the laundry sink when I get through the door and think to myself I’ll deal with that later. I eat leftovers from last nights dinner then think, well I suppose I had better deal with that squid. First stop youtube and quick 3-minute lesson in how to prepare fresh squid. It all goes to plan except the guts wouldn’t come out as cleanly as in the video, damn it. Oh well a good and gruesome 10 minutes later and its finally cleaned, stripped, washed and chopped into rings ready for frying with some habanero sauce, salt and pepper and oil. Talk about spoilt.

I get the fire going, sit in a comfy chair with my belly bursting to the seems and put on 'Rio Bravo', 1959 (John Wayne, Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson and Ricky Nelson, directed by Howard Hawks) During the day whilst driving I thought how last nights film, Fallen Angels, was a very inappropriate choice. I probably really shouldn’t be watching wild urban night time violence drama whilst undertaking a residency focusing on deep time, and natural landscapes. So today whilst at Devonport Linc I came across Rio Bravo, a classic western and thought well perhaps this may have some landscapes in it. It didn’t really, instead it had some reasonably average acting – I never thought much of John Wayne and still think that way. But it was nice and slow which I liked and more appropriate than Hong Kong violence set in the wild windy city streets late at night.