Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dirty Fokker

J Is For Jindaroo Creek

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

No amount of money will get you a seat on the whale-watching flights operated by Frank Walker, owner-operator of Dirty Fokker Flight Services at Jindaroo Creek.

And no amount of searching will pinpoint Jindaroo Creek, a tiny bush town in the South Australian outback, where the pub looks like a London double-decker bus, and where you can donate your (unused) G-strings to the so-called "Eurovision Thong Contest".

Don't bother trying to locate the airline, the pub, or even the minuscule Australian outback settlement on a map. Or on satellite pictures.

Jindaroo Creek doesn't exist. Nor does Dirty Fokker Flight Services. Well, not in real life. But you can still read about Jindaroo Creek. It's where two chapters of my fiction-based novel, Vegemite Vindaloo, are set. I can tell you in no uncertain terms that I would never have been able to conjure up the imaginary place if I hadn't made a trip to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, back in 1999. All the photographs published with this post (taken with a simple point-and-shoot Ricoh Instamatic) portray the real bush scenes that are rendered into fiction in my novel.

For someone with an Indian upbringing like mine, I have always been fascinated by contradictions such as great vistas and little details. It is why I hanker for the view of Kachenjunga from my school, North Point, in Darjeeling. It is why the barren expanse of Alaska (and we're not talking about the pubs, either) captivates me. It is why the Yukon and the unspoilt beauty of Muskoka in Canada inspire me.

It is why the Australian outback touches my heart, not just as a writer, but as a photographer as well. I guess I'm just a sucker for stark beauty.

But when I was on the Eyre Peninsula, not for one moment did I think the unique terrain would spring to mind when I was casting about for an arresting outback location for a couple of chapters in 'Vegemite Vindaloo'.

In the middle of the Nullarbor (that's Latin for no trees - and they're not kidding) the track is red gravel and as dry as a bushman's wit. There are no distinguishing features, just low scrub as far as the eye can see. No trees, no plants. Nothing. There is a strange beauty in the barren surroundings.

The Head of the Bight is where the country comes, dramatically, to an end. The sheer cliffs are practically vertical, down to the thundering ocean below. It is not recommended that visitors peep over the edge. Standing a few feet away, you can see why. The fall is so steep, so dramatic, that it looks as though someone used a mammoth bulldozer to cleanly scoop away the rest of the land. Like so much of this vast country, the beauty is borne of the startling, unexpected severity.

Welcome to the Bunda cliffs (above). Everything here is one colour, yet it is many subtle shades. Everything here is serene, yet the crash of the ocean below reminds you just where you are. Everything here is bare and barren, yet there are, at my feet, impossible splashes of colour.

Amid the red rock and ochre shale are delicate, tiny pink flowers. The wildflowers are not out yet, for the winter has been bone-dry and harsh, but these tiny blossoms thrive where the ground is unbelievably parched.

The cliffs themselves span the palette from reddish-brown through to salmon and even, in parts, to a pale calcium-like shade. They stretch, curving gently onto the horizon, in a sweeping, arresting arc. The ocean below is startlingly luminous in its range of color, so vibrant as to be almost improbable. Turquoise melds to pale blue, which in turn gives way to azure streaks. At the cliffs' edge, the tumult ends in white froth, then departs to shimmer through the hues once more. A cloudless sky imparts the perfect canopy to the scene.

So I guess it's no surprise that Jindaroo Creek turns out to be located in the vicinity of the Head of the Bight, the Bunda Cliffs and the amazing sand dunes that fringe the area. No surprise, either, that one of the characters in the novel tosses in a city slicker's life to live in the outback and fly tourists on whale-watching flights.

Yes, I had a whale of a time. The place is so beautiful, it darn nearly made me blubber.


karoline said...

what a beautiful place...absolutely gorgeous photos david...


david mcmahon said...

Hi Karoline,

Thank you. It is hard to imagine that anything so stark could be so beautiful and so haunting.

Keep smiling


photowannabe said...

You captured the stark beauty in your photos and words. I enjoyed your posts so much.
I will be back.
I'm afraid my J entry will be a bit late this time but it will eventually get posted.

Ananda Niyogi said...

Fantastic post and gorgeous shots David. The textures in the clouds in the first one stole my heart.

Liked the azure colour in the 3rd one too. I have taken the Great Ocean Road Drive and saw similar cliffs near the 12 Apostles. Is this where the Bunda cliffs are?

captain corky said...

I've got to visit your country someday. I hear nothing but good things about your country. I remember when people, other than redknecks, used to feel that way about America too. LOL!

just me said...

I've always wanted to see the outback. I love wild lonely places, and these pictures are so very beautiful and inviting. I coulda been a hermit.

Peter said...

Great colours in these photos DAve, makes me want to be there, you get around to some nice places

kml said...

Great images, and I love the creative way you worked them into your J post!

david mcmahon said...

Hi Photowannabe,

Many thanks. Glad you enjoyed the post and the photographs. Looking forward to your post.

Keep smiling


david mcmahon said...

Hi Ananda,

Thank you, I'm so glad you liked the shots.

The Twelve Apostles are in Victoria, the Eyre Peninsula is across the state border in South Australia.

make tat your next Australian trip!

Keep smiling


david mcmahon said...

Hi Ananda,

Thank you, I'm so glad you liked the shots.

The Twelve Apostles are in Victoria, the Eyre Peninsula is across the state border in South Australia.

Make that your next Australian trip!

Keep smiling


david mcmahon said...

Hi Captain Corky,

You love the country. So will Corky jnr!

Keep smiling


david mcmahon said...

Hi Just Me,

We're all hermits in some ways, I guess.

Glad you liked the post.

Keep smiling


david mcmahon said...

Hi Peter,

Thank you. The colours were pretty amazing and like I said, those shots were take with a cheap Instamatic!

I have been very lucky, with all the travelling I've done.

Keep smiling


david mcmahon said...


Glad you liked the shots. Those are some of the actual scenes described in the novel.

Plety more where those came from. Hard to believe it was eight years ago, with a little Ricoh camera!

Keep smiling


lime said...

amazing. the bunda cliffs and the description of them are captivating. an abrupt end to the continent indeed!

thanks so much for sharing part of what makes this place so beautiful to you. just wonderful.

Hammer said...

Those cliffs do look steep. Your country has some great landscapes.

Secret Agent Mama said...

David, your photographs move me! Love them all. :)

WalksFarWoman said...

David, it's so hard to grasp such places, they tend to overwhelm and take a lot of concentration to soak them up. Once there in the memory bank, they will never move. You're incredibly lucky to seen so much!

mrsnesbitt said...

Awesome, we do indeed live in a beautiful world.

Brian in Oxford said...

Hi David

It looks like God took a chisel to the side of mountain, huh?


AVCR8TEUR said...

Those are some beautiful photos. Your Jindaroo Creek is a culmination of all the sites you've seen and your experiences to make it come to life. You are fortunate to live in such a scenic area.

Deborah Gamble said...


Despite a morally questionable agent, a sobbing mother and untimely weather, they've made it to Australia. Haven't heard of Jindaroo Creek yet. Will keep reading.

Max-e said...

Wonderful post David - great imagery. I will be visiting Exclusive Books this weekend to get a copy of your book

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Great photos and pictures. I see I'm a couple of posts behind, must be the time difference or I'm a slow poke.

Carol McFarlane said...

Conjures up other lovely, seemingly barren spots - Adra, at this time of year, in India, and Ilorin, also at this time of year, in Nigeria. Also the most beautiful little flowers (don't ask me their names!) bloom there at this time of year. Very haunting. And names that could belong anywhere...

Hin Man said...

What a beauty you have captured in those photos and your poetic description of the place adds to the mystery and charm of the place. I don't know how you do it, it is always magical to visit your blog posts with vivid description. I wish I don't have my day job and I can have more time in your blog and your writing. Your work inspires me.

Alexandre Paige said...

Hi David,

A gorgeous and most moving post. I had the opportunity to fly to Perth from Sydney on a beautifully clear Spring day. We flew so close to the sea and cliffs all the way along the coast that I could see the whites in the pattern of the waves from my seat! It was incredible. I'd packed a book for the flight but hardly read. Even though I was looking from a different perspective to you I totally understand your being mesmerised by the landscape's austerity. I love whale watching too!

See you,

Helena said...

I can't believe a certain Bear missed this post. Thong contest? LOL

Nicole said...

WOW... what beautiful photos. I was so in awe of the beauty and could feel myself being pulled inside the photo and it was me taking those photos. Beautiful!