Allen Gray

Geelong, Australia

Thanks for taking the time to view my images! I’m a amature photographer let loose in the Geelong region, and I thank you for you...

Operation: Canberra Scuttlling

Well the day had finally arrived, the day when the ex-HMAS Canberra would be sent to the bottom of Bass Strait. This day had been long in coming, three years to be exact, and to say that I was excited was to say the least. This has been a project, that in the last six months had been just out of reach, just waiting, with its own trials and challenges, and now that it’s over, I feel that there is something missing now!

My first shoot of Canberra didn’t quite go according to plan, which was when I shot her entering Corio Bay from the air about last June/July. I was trying to get her as she entered Port Phillip Heads under tow from Western Australia, where she had been decommissioned at HMAS Sterling, or what is also called Fleet Base West. Canberra and the Heads would be a combination I’d never get! I then took some shots of her alongside in Geelong as she was starting to be prepped for a dive wreck, then I settled back to wait. The first date was February 2009, but February came and went, and nothing happened. Then word started filtering down, September. Then there was a date, the 12th. So I started scrambling. I tried everywhere to get a ride out on the water for the day, but no luck. I put in leave to have the day off, I got myself geared up, I had borrowed my friend’s 500mm lens, everything was set, except for the weather. The sinking was postponed. I had a reprieve, the race for a boat was back on! Again I put in leg work, a yacht I knew of was being put up on the slip the Friday before the sinking. All the dive charters were fully booked bar one, and I didn’t have the cash they wanted (around $120), and I was working night shift! And to top it all off I came off night shift Saturday morning, and found myself in Melbourne, helping a friend move house, so I missed the Canberra going through the Heads again! Argh!! I had already been up to the Bluff at Barwon Heads during Friday, knowing full well that I was going to have to shoot from shore, so I had already scouted out my position. All my gear was ready, there was a change of clothes in the car, and I had permission to get out of work early, I was set!

I got out of work, at around 0710, and quickly changed at work. Phase one of Operation: Canberra Scuttling complete! So it was into the car, and get through town as quick as I could, to beat the crowd and claim my spot! I arrived at the Bluff at Barwon Heads at around 0800, Phase two complete! With a car park found, I hiked my way up the Bluff, and set up my location at the upper lookout, Phase three done! Now I settled in to wait for Phase four, the sinking. That’s where things left my control. During the night, the weather had forced the towage company to tow Canberra out to sea for safety reasons, and a decision would be made to sink her on the morning of the sinking. The weather cleared up, and the decision was made to sink her. The planned time at been at 0915, but as the time approached, we were advised of a delay. So we waited. Six long, weary hours later, she was finally sent to the bottom, Phase four check! Finally! Phase five was pack up the gear, head back into Geelong, and take the kids to the Eaten Alive exhibit at the Wool Museum! Somehow I got through that, and tumbled into bed at around 1730, and then back to work that night. The photos would have to wait till tomorrow. Phase six began Monday morning, home from night shift, and most of Monday was dedicated to editing. Finally, today, Tuesday, two days after the sinking, I’ve finally found the usable shots and finished editing. The end of this project. I actually feel a void there now, as that had been my major focus for almost a year! Ah well, there’s always her Sister, being sunk next year in New South Wales!!

Journal Comments

  • Ronald Hannah
  • Allen Gray
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