The Weekend That Changed My Life

It was the weekend that changed my life. 

Earlier that year, I’d returned from a three month sojourn to Europe and North Africa.  Back at home, I was suffocating in the provincial clutches of Perth.  Every weekend was the same music, the same clubs; the same shit.  I needed to do something different. 

I had been working to transform my car into a mobile home, and I was a regular weekend visitor to WA’s South West coastline.  This was the closest I could get to travelling without actually travelling.    The unrestricted freedom of the open road, new waves, different people; it was the perfect escape. 

But that’s all it was.  An escape.  I’d return home on Sunday evenings to the same painful reality, and I knew retreating to the coast every weekend wasn’t a sustainable solution.  The only thing I was running from was myself, and wherever I went my demons would follow.  I was alone and directionless in a cruel, unforgiving world. 

My earlier antipodal adventure had piqued an interest in writing and photography, and I had been taking a photojournalism unit at uni.  I needed to produce a photo-story for an upcoming assignment, and the brief was open-ended.  I could create whatever I wanted, but what was it that I wanted? 

The weekend drew nearer, and I decided to do something different.  I would venture into WA’s Great Southern, a wild and rugged region a few hours south of my regular haunts.  My surfboards were packed in the back, but for the first time I brought my dog, and my camera too.

The day I left, it was a cold spring morning, and the hills just outside Perth were shrouded in foggy mystery.  Jezza eyed me curiously from the front seat, wondering where the bloody hell we were going.  I was alone, but I no longer felt lonely or lost. 

We reached the crest and began to make our descent, the city in the rear view and Albany Highway rolling out into rural plains ahead.  The fog cleared, and I knew this wasn’t just going to be a weekend getaway of sensual indulgence.  I felt a sense of purpose, a need to create something. 

That weekend, I experienced a pivotal moment of enlightenment.  I was camping at Cosy Corner, a camp ground between Denmark and Albany in the shade of willowy peppermint trees.  It was still dark when I woke and I rolled from the car, scraping the sleep from my eyes.  Drowsy and semi-conscious, I grabbed my camera and stumbled up the beach. 

The picture I saw before me was hypnotising.  The sun was creeping over a distant peak, and dynamic shades of purple in the sky were refracted by a still inlet.  I ran up the beach, wide awake and shrieking with delight, Jezza bounding eagerly in tow.  That image is imprinted in my brain, an elucidating memory of ecstatic joy. 

From that moment on, I was drawn to documenting the beauty of the world.