Sometimes our journey through life takes us to places which frankly would have been inconceivable even a few months before. The number of factors that combined to take me to Tanjil Falls this afternoon (12/11/09) is no exception.
In 2007 I landed a job teaching percussion at Upper Yarra Secondary College. The school is miles away from where I live but with my bushwalking and photography background I thought it would be a great place to work because of the proximity of the natural paradise that is the Yarra Valley. Planning a short walk for each Thursday after school pretty soon had me writing lists of places to check out this morphed into amongst other things a list of waterfalls to visit which in turn slowly turned into an idea to visit every waterfall within 100km of Melbourne which in turn has developed from a personal project into an idea for a book.
In January 2008 I joined redbubble and the first person I met online was Rob Mullner later I met Tony Middleton and then Donovan Wilson . Being great photographers whose work I admired and found inspirational as well as living in reasonable proximity to each other we eventually decided to meet up for a shoot at Toorongo Falls on 2/7/09. What followed was a great day both socially and artistically and while travelling around in Tony’s car up near Tanjil Bren we crossed the Tanjil River West Branch which looked pretty photogenic and Tony related an adventure he had had where he spent half a day struggling down it to see what he could find (unfortunately not much photographically anyway). A few days after this I was travelling home from another school I teach at in Cheltenham and dropped into the Melbourne Map Centre and found a map of the area we had just visited that I hadn’t seen before and to my surprise found on the river Tony had struggled down (but obviously not far enough) a waterfall previously unknown to me called Tanjil Falls.
In recent years stream flows for waterfalls have been a real issue around Melbourne so despite my desire to visit it straight away I have held back so I could concentrate on the more seasonal streams to the north of Melbourne which have been flowing well for a change after some good spring rains. This area more to the east is in a much more mountainous area of the Great Dividing Range and therefore has good stream flows year round so I’ve only gotten to it now things have started to dry out everywhere else a bit more.
Finishing work at 1:00pm I took off and after driving for an hour parked my car at a non-descript corner of the road. I then descended 250 metres in altitude over about 1km through increasingly thick scrub. Navigation when bush bashing can be a bit hit and miss and I ended up a fair way off target which through pure intuition I decided (correctly as it thankfully turned out) that I was upstream from the falls. Usually I keep a water bottle in my camera bag but somehow it had been removed and not put back so I was pretty thirsty after the hour long descent. At the rivers edge I slipped on a rock and as I grabbed a branch to stop me falling my head jerked forward sending my glasses flying off my nose and into a fast flowing current. Not wanting to loose this very expensive item I stripped off naked and slowly made my way downstream feeling along the bottom until I eventually found them. I then followed the river downstream (after dressing again lol) along the extremely steep and thickly vegetated banks thinking I may have headed the wrong way and due to time constraints may have to return another day when suddenly around a bend lo and behold there they were.
Unfortunately it was very sunny and this particular bend in the river was in half sunlight making the light situation very difficult to work with. Fortunately a small cloud passed in front of the sun for this frame so at least I got one reasonable shot although I’m thinking a return on a heavily overcast winter day might be in order.
I know I can go on sometimes but I hope if you’ve read my story this far it was of interest. If you’re thinking of visiting I would strongly advise you only do so if you have had extensive off track experience over very steep terrain as this one is not for the faint hearted. My 20 month old was most taken with the huge blood clot on my leg (from pulling a leech off) and the innumerable scratches (bush-bashing through thick undergrowth, sword-grass creeper, blackberries and nettles isn’t everyones idea of fun) I had.
Camera: Canon 5D mkII
Lens: EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM @ 16mm
Filters: Circular Polarizer, 2 stop ND graduated filter
Shutter Speed: 4 sec
Exposure Compensation: -1/3rd stop
When: 3:14pm on 12/11/09
To check out other shots from this area see my Yarra Valley gallery.
For more waterfall shots check out my Waterfalls gallery.
10% of all profits go to the Wilderness Society