Day 6 - 10 April 2012

8.17pm - I woke up this morning right on the stroke of 7.30. It was yet another windy and wet morning. The sky was filled with grey clouds, the wind blowing furiously from the south-west. First its the morning breakfast ritual, then a few light jobs, window cleaning around Q3 and Q2, sorting out gloves, tidying up the tool cupboard etc. We eat like kings on Tasman, stuffing our faces every few hours with excellent Ďtraditionalí home-styled cooking from Jo and Erika, washed down with Tasman Island tank water and countless cups of tea.

After morning tea concludes we Ė Chris, Col, Karl, Sue, Derek and myself - head off for a walk/climb down the Haulage-way. Its still very grey, overcast and windy, but the haulage way is on the north-east corner of the island, so the island itself should block out the wind which it does to perfection. Itís a very steep climb, with one relief in the sharp degree in drop about two thirds of the way down until the final section that is the steepest of all. Throughout the whole climb down, the cliffs loom overhead like some a mistress welding her whip at you from above, it quite daunting. The craggily fissures in the rock are beautiful to look at. Some are smooth, whilst others rounded, then next to them some are so contorted that the reading of them opens up numerous possibilities, like looking at Rorschach pattern. I stop every couple of minutes and take some photos of them, up close mostly, attempting to garner some sort of textured surface.

The vast expansive broad view over the Tasman Sea seems to pale against this dramatic and overpowering rock surfaces looming above. Thereís one piece that seems to defy gravity as much of it precariously hangs over nothingness. I feel myself climbing down faster over this section. But I really get a buzz out of making this climb. Itís the fifth time Iíve done it and each time I am reminded how powerfully evoking of the sublime in nature it is with these long vertical rock columns. We eventually make our way down to the haulage site. Its looking much more dilapidated, far much so than Iíve ever seen it before. The wild weather of Tasman is really taking its toll here. In 20 years I doubt that it will be still standing, although in saying that, the underneath structure holding it all up still looks quite sound. On top is another story though. The handrails are falling off, much of the timber is rotten all the way through in some places. The flying fox and machinery left behind is rusting together after over 30 years of no use. Pieces of the mechanisms that were there on my last trip down here, such as a beautiful big hock used for attaching onto the basket and goods to be hauled onto the island, are now gone. Itís a little depressing knowing that this piece of history wonít survive for much longer.

There are plenty of seals underneath the haulage, about a dozen of them inclusive of one little one. There seem to ignore us, but I can tell that they are keeping an eye on us at the same time. They donít move away like they have in other years. I climb around the place, take some images thinking of Strukelj and Virtue, of greys and blacks. I feel like that it takes some time for me to look properly whilst Iím here, and to be consciously aware of thinking about the elements of these artists work and how they might affect mine. Perhaps the sea and cliffs, and the difficulty and tiredness of climbing down the Haulage-way, have affected/distracted my concentration of the things that I should really be aware of? A part of me feels that most of the photographs that Iím taking has this awareness in them, I just need to remember these moments when re-examining them.

We make the climb back up the overgrown Haulage-way after about 45 minutes wandering around below. Itís a special feeling being on this part of the island. So much activity once occurred here. It was the life-blood of the island as well as a place of tragedy. It was where lighthouse keepers and their families first made contact with the island and on resupply days where the only other human contact was made. It was where all of the supplies, such as food, fuel, heating materials, the mail and passengers were precariously unloaded off a boat, into a basket connected to a flying fox and onto the island. Numerous boats still come to this point/place where the past is vividly conjured up, and where a sense of the true hardship of being on an island would have once occurred, but just about the only thing offloaded now-a-days is a finger on a camera shutter by tourists as they do their lap of the island before heading further down the peninsula. Where, in 1927, a life was lost whilst workers were installing a new crane that unfortunately collapsed into the sea taking 2 men with it. One of the men was recovered but with serious injuries, the other was thrown into the sea never to be seen again. Evidence of this tragedy lies nearby in the foundations of the old crane where the initials of the workers can be seen ominously etched into the concrete with the date 1927, and off to the left lies what remains of the old crane itself resting on its side on the edge of the cliff ever since that fatal day. It also marks the place where the life giving supplies and people were then dispatched onto the nearby haulage carts to begin the journey up the incredibly steep 700-foot Haulage-way incline to the top. Itís a powerful Place-orientator for the island as it is loaded with so much corporeal historic meaning. Its a volatile place, the waves are always rolling in haphazardly, coupled with the extreme Tasman weather patterns, and the strange looking Anchor Rock to which the flying fox is attached. Then of course, looming high above is the tall grey cliffs stretched out like an open fanned curtain above and just across the passage of water the broad rounded base of The Blade and sleek crescent curves rounding off the top of the enormous sheer vertical cliffs of Cape Pillar. Everything about the scene has drama. From the first-hand experience of it, to the thoughts of what occurred here over the last hundred years and its dramatic landscape.

Upon returning from the walk I felt totally exhausted. By body was so tired that I felt like I wouldnít be able to function that afternoon, but after the late 2pm lunch ritual, I felt my body rejuvenated. It was such a strange feeling as the body simply had energy again, all from the lunch, cups of tea and water put into it. I feel this sensation every time I come to Tasman and it really puts the workings of the body and how it copes with activity into perspective. Anyway, I do a few more window cleaning jobs, have a quick read of some more Australian Geographic magazines, before afternoon tea. Afterwards itís few more small jobs, helping Chris and Derek down at Q1, before at about 5pm we go for another walk around the eastern side of the island. Col joins us. The sun is slowly starting to set and its still a very grey day. The wind is up again also. We head north from Q1 and start the walk near the Whim. Once we arrive, its right turn up the grassy covered hill covered towards the most north-easterly point, where we then turn right and head south along the very edge of the cliff. About half way along we stop to take in the magnificent views again over to the Blade, Cape Pillar, back across to Cape Raoul and across the island to the houses and lighthouse. My eye is taken by a big square rock sitting at the top of the nearby cliff edge. It must 4-5 metres squared, just sitting quietly sitting on top there like that. In the distance is Cape Pillar. I stare at its long stretch of cliffs, and I cant help but think of time, about the millions and millions of years and the small but mighty movements of the earth that has shaped these extraordinary formations. I feel small, maybe not small, maybe insignificant, or maybe the insignificance of my being here, of my miniscule involvement with this place in comparison to the geological shaping in front of my eyes. I donít linger for too long on these thoughts as I have had them before whilst being here, but there are times when on this island when it is so in your face, that you simply cannot ignore it. Its affect is deep, it really makes one think of ones own selfhood against this natural immensity as Mr Sachs puts it. We continue the walk but these thoughts stay fresh in my mind. Both of todayís walks spoke to me of notions of time, short time, medium time and very long deep time, as well future time and how things will perhaps be shaped in time.

The dinner ritual follows my third shower. Itís a nice feeling being clean again. As we talk prior to dinner, Sue talks about the 6 places she would love to go and visit in the world. Most of them, she says, are broad; expansive landscapes (Scotland, Ireland, Greenland, Arctic, etc) all are wild, remote, and isolated places. She also talks of being in London closer to where her style of painting Ė abstract minimalism - currently flourishes. I concur with her on all of these fronts, except for the Abstract Minimalist stuff, and again I think of what I do apart from one-point perspective representations of Tasman. Is there a contemporary style that I should be focusing on to contemporise what Iím doing? Good question. This needs more thought. Iíve been writing for 50 minutes now, and have been really tired all evening from all of the walks today, but Iím really glad the walks occurred. Hopefully weíll get a few more in over the last three full days of being here.

I woke up in the middle of the night and thought about a triptych of drawings Ė based on the cricket story of Dee and Carol Jackson as kids. The pitch (their hallway in Q1 all its splendid darkness), The Blade (from the bottom of the haulage), and tea, (the large tea pot pouring tea)