New Victoria Dam

The ubiquitous New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae), New Victoria Dam, Korung National Park, Western Australia.

Over the last few days my FaceBook feed has been seeing some seriously tasty bird photos from one of the groups that I belong to. The photos all come from one area  – New Victoria Dam which is 30Km east of Perth on the Darling Range in Korung National Park. So when the Beloved Significant Other (BSO) announced she was competing in a croquet competition at a location just 20 minutes drive away I immediately volunteered myself as driver.

 

 

 

 

There are two starting points to the walk and which you choose will largely depend upon when you visit. If you visit outside of office hours Monday to Friday or anytime at the weekend then y ou have to use the upper carpark as your start point as the access road is shut. During office hours you can drive down to the lower carpark keeping in mind that if stay till after 5pm then you won’t be able to drive out. I started at the upper carpark which only adds 800m each way to the walk. The walk consists of a 7Km round trip down past the New Victoria Dam to the Old Victoria dam wall and the garden and picnic area. There used to be a path through the trees at the edge of the road but it has become quite overgrown and indistinct so you are best walking along the access road. As you walk down the road on your left is the  gravesite of Francis Weston who died in 1876 aged two days, his parents lived in the timber workers settlement at Bickley. When you get to the lower carpark walk through it and then follow the trail markers. After walking through the forest you come to New Victoria Dam. Walk down the steps and at the bottom turn right onto the road and walk down to the remains of the Old Victoria Dam.

 

The gravesite of Francis Westson who died in 1876 aged two days. His parents lived in the timber workers settlement at Bickley.

 

The steps down to the New Victoria Dam.

 

The original dam was built in 1891 and pumped water via pipelines to Kings Park and a reservoir there on Mount Eliza. The dam became the first permanent water source for Perth and was operated by the private City of Perth Waterworks Company. As the water catchment area took in agricultural land and timber settlements there were fears that it would be polluted by raw sewage and excrement from livestock. Between 1895 and 1900 typhoid broke out in Perth and 425 people died. The water was tested and found to be contaminated so the government took control and made changes to prevent re-occurrence. By 1988 the concrete structure was beginning to degrade to such an extent it could no longer be repaired so in 1990 work on the new dam commenced and because of the use of roller compacted concrete it was completed by the following year. It can hold 9.5 million kilo-litres and is used to supply drinking water to Kalamunda and Lesmurdie. 

 

The wall of the old Victoria dam and the garden beside it.

 

In the lee of the old dam there is a grassed picnic area and toilets. Thickets of ti-tree and one-sided bottlebrush or claw flower have been planted and the thick vegetation along the creek line provides dense cover for a number of bird species. On this trip I used the picnic gazebo as an impromptu bird hide and spent a couple of hours watching the various birds feed and drink. I saw  red-eared firetails, mistletoe birds, splendid fairy wrens, western spinebills, new holland honeyeaters, white faced herons and rosellas. The dam spillway feeds water to the pond and creek that provides a year round water supply which means that the birds are always active all here. If you are there at dawn or dusk then kangaroos can be seen feeding on the grass. It is a great little spot and doesn’t require too much effort to get there.

 

Red-eared Firetail (Stagonopleura oculata), New Victoria Dam, Korung National Park, Western Australia.

 

White Faced Heron (Egretta novaehollandiae), New Victoria Dam, Korung National Park, Western Australia.

The best camera….

…is the one you have got with you. It’s an old saying but it is a truism.  I’ve always been a proponent of having a high quality pocket camera for those times when you don’t want to carry a camera. In the days of film it was my Olympus XA or XA4 (see the picture in the heading of the blog), but now it is Panasonic LX-5. The make or model is immaterial, really the main criteria is that it has to fit in my pocket and be able to produce a good quality A4 sized print.  The irony is that most of my best-selling pictures have been taken with such cameras.

Yesterday was one of those beautiful winter days that makes living in the south-west of Western Australia so worthwhile. It had been a cold clear night and we woke to a crisp morning with temperature expected to rise to 23℃ – better than some country’s summer. So my partner and I decided to walking in the Darling Range just above Perth and we walked along Piesse Brook to a place called Rocky Pool which is a picturesque little spot. Once we got there my partner decided to sit and cool off her feet in the water and I decided to take a couple of shots for the relatives such as this one:

It’s fine as a family snap shot and it records a nice moment in our lives that we can share with family members living in the UK, but pocket cameras are so good these days they are capable of so much more. I turned 180º and looked at the pool at the bottom of the small water fall. It was a pretty vista and I wanted to record it but knew that the dynamic range of the camera’s sensor was not up to recording the huge subject brightness range of the scene. Hmm! What to do? I had no graduated filters, no tripod, no cable release, just my pocket camera. So I set  exposure bracketing dialling in +/- 2 stops and handholding the camera just above the water took a series of shots while crossing my fingers. When I got home I fired up the computer and imported the pictures into Lightroom and then chose to merge them into a HDR using PhotoShop. After a bit of jiggery pokery playing around with curves and a couple of plugins I got this:

Not a great work of art but it is a pleasing shot that sums what a great time we had.

It really is a great time to be a photographer.

Just as a gentle plug a while ago I wrote and illustrated a book on walking in Perth, this walk was included. The book can be bought from tourist offices and good bookshops in Western Australia or it cane be ordered online here:

http://www.booktopia.com.au/perth-s-best-bush-coast-and-city-walks/prod9781921606793.html