As a child, the Painted Cliffs at Vesteys Beach captivated me as only the peculiar can. Wandering among those coloured behemoths, I had no clue as to their origin beyond what my childish mind could invent. Looking back, there is the hint of a whisper, a memory on the cusp of the forgetting abyss. In it, ancient giants laden with painted clay craft the cliffs as they stand on the coastline. They fire the clay with molten breath from their mouths, and so they stand unchanged.
Dean and I discover (or, in my case, rediscover) the Painted Cliffs at Vesteys Beach on an average Saturday. We’re geocaching and opt to take a shortcut along the rocky waterline instead of along the road where cars roar past. It’s the coastal breeze that calls us, not the slipstream of moving traffic. It is a decision we do not regret, though the sun beats down and bakes us against the rock. There is comfort and solace in the shade of the painted cliffs, and we seek it out.
There’s an eerie quiet in the shade, as we crane to see those clifftops. Over the years they have crumbled up and down. Now, trees and roots hug the tops in shape. A life-saving embrace I suppose for both the cliffs and those who wander beneath them. Despite their unusual hue, the rocks look completely in place to my eyes. These are the colours I most associate with my little spot in Australia. The ochres, yellows and reds. They represent the very earth of Darwin, that I have dug my fingers into over the years of my childhood. I have scrambled in this dirt, and now I can see the layers before me like a timeline on the rock. It is, in a word, magnificent.
We can trace our way along the cliffs by the coast all the way from Vesteys Beach to the unofficial start of the East Point footpath, marked to locals by the ‘first playground’ of the three that appear in the reserve. The tide is low, a necessity for completing this little hike, but the light of midday makes capturing photographs difficult. A careful balance needs to be achieved between the baking sun and the dark shadow of the cliffs. I shoot in RAW, to ensure I don’t miss it. At sunset I feel that the low sun might distort these colours too much, but perhaps I’ll have a chance before we leave Darwin to see the cliffs at sunrise. I’ve walked the area before at this time, but not with a camera. With the sun rising behind the cliffs, but the light permeating all around them, I think it’s the best time to capture colour and myth, all in one frame.
Dean and I often wander on the weekends, but our little visit to the Painted Cliffs At Vesteys Beach is one of the few times I’ve endeavoured to bring my camera. I try not to make grand promises here, particularly when I know I struggle to keep them, but I’d like to set aside Monday as the day for sharing these little weekend wanders. It’s motivation both for me to carry my camera, to blog on everyone’s least favourite day of the week, and to share a little weekend adventure with you all.