Sunday, 11 January 2015

Return to the High Country

Here's the continuation of the list of High Country Huts I visited. 
Kelly's & Holmes Plains
Kellys Hut – Holmes Plains, was built by Jim Kelly in 1934 and is located on Kelly’s Lane (I had to walk Kelly's Lane as the road was still seasonally closed), at the northern end of Holmes Plains in the snow gums at the edge of the plain. James Vincent Kelly owned this hut. It was built for him in 1934 with materials brought in by pack horse. J Norton had previously held the lease but Jim Kelly took it up as soldier settlement after the first World War in 1920.
The hut has been modified many times over the years. Originally a drop slab building with a gabled roof and half a skillion shed. Vertical slabs and an iron roof were later used, plus an extension to the shed. The slabs and stone chimney were reclad in iron.
Guys in morning light
Guys Hut is located on Bryce’s Plain near Bryces Gorge. Alex Guy acquired Wonnangatta Station and the Snowy Plains freehold in 1934. The hut was built in March 1940 to replace the nearby Bryce’s Hut, now gone, for mustering. Alex died in 1949 and was succeeded by his sons, Jack and Arthur, and the lease transferred to the Gilder Family in 1970, thereafter bought by the Victorian Government.
The hut was originally built three logs high, and later extended to seven logs high. The timber frames are adzed snow gum found locally and form a gabled roof, covered with corrugated iron. The floor is paved with basalt blocks, and the chimney is dry stone construction.
Guys illuminated by evening light
Howitt Plains Hut Also known as Howitt Hut is located on the edge of the Howitt Plains in the Alpine National Park and is surrounded by snow gums and overlooks grassy plains and the head waters of the Caledonia River.
William Bryce held the leasehold for Wonnagatta Station and the Howitt and Snowy Plains from 1870 to 1914. He built the hut on the lease in 1899 and it was located very near to where the body of John Bamford was found after the Wonnangatta murders in 1918 [see below].
Howitt Plains Hut
The hut was first built with drop slab walls. It appears the hut was completely rebuilt in the 1920's to 30's. Then the gabled design roof and walls were re-clad with corrugated iron over the shingles in 1938. It is also the only hut I found with graffiti plastered over the exterior.
Easily recognisable - Wallace Hut
Wallaces Hut called Seldom Seen Inn and Seldom Seen Hut.This is the oldest complete structure in the Alpine National Park, built in 1889 by the Wallace bothers, Arthur, William and Stewart from snow gum slabs and woollybutt shingles. It measures 4.5m by 3.7m and consists of a pole frame and slabs for the floor and a pole framed chimney. Since 1931 many changes have occurred including new windows. The SEC added the shed and corrugated iron about 1946. The National Trust classified the hut in 1967.
Part of the Rover Scout Chalet
Located on the Bogong High Plains beside the Langford West Aqueduct and the Cope Hut track is the rambling  Rover Scout Chalet or Rover Scout Lodge. Built by the Fitzgerald family in 1940, it has been extended many times since. It has been constructed with modern materials including concrete blocks. The hut has a refuge for the public.
Cope Hut amidst the snow gums
Cope Hut was built 1929, after a proposal by Robert Wilkinson for the Ski Club of Victoria. Designed by the Victorian Public Works Department, it was the first hut built for “recreational use”. Materials came by dray, then by sled to the High Plains. The original hut had the main entrance coming into the ski room, but it was regularly snowed in, so a new door was cut into the "back" wall, and remains to this day. The hut has a steep gable and measuring about 5m by 3.5m for the core building, flanked by bunk areas and a ski room. The rafters are adzed softwood and the floor of hardwood. The fireplace, around the slow combustion stove, is of rough granite and the walls and roof of corrugated iron. The hut was classified by the National Trust in 1988.
The Langford SEC hut in the early morning
SEC Hut was built by the SEC, beside the Langford East Aqueduct at Langford Gap about 1958, and used as a gauging station. Weatherboard clad, with a wooden floor and iron roof, it had a slow combustion stove, chairs etc.
Edmonsons Hut beneath a threatening sky
Edmonsons Hut is located at Nelse Creek, on the Bogong High Plains. Jim Edmondson built his own hut in 1960. The materials were pre-cut and carted to the plains. The small chaff shed at the rear of the hut was added later by Jim's son, Robert in 1961. When Jim finished with the plains he gave the hut to the Education Department.
The hut is a gabled iron clad building and is lined with masonite. The mezzanine loft floor is particle board and the ground floor is  T&G hardwood. There are corrugated fibregalls in the roof for light wells.
Johnston's Hut, there's a snow depth gauge beside the chimney
Johnstons Hut located at The Big River Fire Track, on the Bogong High Plains. (Also known as Telemark Hut). The first hut was built in the early 1930s and was popular with skiers. It was the only hut built in the Alpine Area for sheep grazing. The Ski Club of East Gippsland acquired the permissive occupancy in 1966. The hut burnt down on 17 May 1976, and the new hut built in June 1976, was of almost identical appearance. The hut is 5.5m by 5.6m and was re-built on concrete piers, with a skillion to one side, with hardwood boards and a corrugated iron roof. 
Kellys Hut on Kelly Track
Kellys Hut - Marms Point, located at the Kelly Track (as distinct from Kellys Hut on Holmes Plain) near Cemetery Spur, Marms Point near the head of Wildhorse Creek. Bogong High Plains, about 700m from Fitzgeralds hut. Also known as Rocky Valley SEC Commission Survey Hut.
The first hut on the site was built in 1901. Patrick J Kelly built the second hut on this site in 1901, after grazing began on the lease in the 1890s. This hut had vertical slab walls, a paling roof and gabled structure, but was burnt down in 1956. It was replaced with an SEC hut, removed from the Rocky Valley site in 1958. A typical pre-fab SEC hut in three sections, with considerable modifications, the walls are shiplapped weatherboards over a hardwood frame. The roof is corrugated iron and the floor of T&G hardwood. The iron chimney has been restored. The Kelly family owned the lease until taken over by the National Park in 1982.
Fitzgeralds Hut through the rain
Fitzgeralds Hut located at Kellys Track, Marms Point, the Bogong High Plains. George Silas Fitzgerald built the hut in 1903. Originally it was shingled and he covered it with corrugated iron in 1928. The hut was destroyed by fire in 1991, after the chimney caught alight on a school camping trip. The hut was rebuilt in 1993, 6m to the south of the old, and is of drop slab construction, made from recycled timbers and salvaged railway sleepers. The floor is hardwood butt jointed, and the roof is gabled iron.

Most of the hut information and histories from the great site by the Kosciusko  Huts Association, which shows there are still heaps of huts to visit!
Wallace Hut
The Wonnagatta Murders - In December 1917 James Barclay (Manager of Wonnagatta Station – one of the most isolated cattle stations in Victoria) hired John Bamford as a cook/odd job man (a wiry man with a violent temper, suspected of strangling his wife). Bamford & Barclay were last seen together at Talbotville on 21st December 1917. In February 1918, Barclay’s friend Harry Smith organised a search where they found Barclay’s decomposing body south-west of the homestead near Conglomerate Creek. He had been shot in the back. Bamford was missing and suspected, until November 1918, when Bamford’s body was found hidden under a pile of charred logs 400m north of the Howitt Plains Hut (16km east of the homestead). He too had been shot. The murderer was never found. The homestead burned down in 1957 and a hut was built on the site from the remaining salvaged materials.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

A salute to the High Country

There is a mystic and romanticism around the High Country Huts, which I feel is well-founded. I wanted to see some of them before more natural and man-made disasters befall them. Here are the huts in the order I visited them.
Wallaces Hut
The Howqua Hills Historic Area is along the Howqua River, past Merrijig, and home to a number of huts.
Frys Hut on Fry’s Flat was built by the Frys. Jim Fry after whom it is named, was a carrier in the area for decades. Fred Fry, his nephew took over the hut and built others nearby, including Ritchies, Gardners, Upper Jamieson and Schusters Huts.(Fred Fry was the inspiration for Nevil Shute’s ‘Far Country’. I even read the book before my trip to get a feel for the country). Fred was known for his unique style of roof building, where the main supports ran the length of the roof, and were pulled in a rolling fashion, up the roof using horses and a chain.Original plans of Frys show a house of 5 rooms. It has a high gable roof over a solid drop slab building with skillions and a verandah. 
Frys Hut
The hut sits beside the Howqua River a short distance away was Howqua Hills township. Little apart from the Howqua United mining company’s brick chimney remains, claimed by bushfires and reclaimed by the bush.
Pickerings in the afternoon
Upstream on the Howqua is the most beautiful hut setting – Pickering’s. This private hut is among mature exotic deciduous trees and looked beautiful in both the afternoon and early morning light. This hut was built in 1953 by Fred Fry as a fishermans hut, using his traditional slab wall techniques. It was built under a permissive occupancy within the Howqua Hills Historic Area.
A misty morning at Pickerings
Noonans Hut is further upstream and is another private hut. The Noonan Family had a previous connection with the mountain cattlemen, Jack Lovick and Mr Jack Davon, and it was via these men that they were offered the hut and site for sale. The site may have been originally been leased by Norm Pickering who swapped the site (a Permissive Occupancy) with the owners of another block downstream. 
A shuttered Noonans Hut
The current hut, built by the Noonan Family, is the second on this site, replacing a pre-fabricated Myers Aluminium garage on the site until late 1966. The new hut is a traditional bush slab building, being 30’ by 16’ in drop-slab timber, with a corrugated iron, gabled roof over 2 rooms and a verandah. It has a wood floor, and rare amongst High Country huts, it has a central brick fireplace/chimney, rather than the usual placement along one wall.
As the Noonan family owned hotels at that time, and were renovating, it sports the windows and doors from the now demolished International Hotel, Melbourne. They re-used six pane double-ash windows and two second-hand panelled vertical boarded doors which are unusual features for a bush dwelling. It also has some lead-light windows.
Craigs Hut with Mt Cobbler behind
Probably the most well-known hut, even if it is not authentically a historic or cattleman’s or walker’s hut is Craig’s Hut is located at Clear Hills, east of Mt Stirling in the Alpine National Park. Craigs Hut was built especially for the film 'The Man from Snowy River' in 1981.It was called Craigs after the lead actor, Jim Craig (played by Tom Burlinson) and re-used in the sequel in 1988. Between the two films, it was also used for a third film ‘Cool Change’ in 1986.
Craigs Hut
 The original was a set “prop” only - horizontal slabs, with bark over iron roof and no floor. The third version is the one burnt in the Alpine Bushfire on December 11 2006. It was rebuilt again in 2007, and is still standing as a popular and much photographed tourist attraction.
Bindaree Hut
Bindaree Hut is set on the river flat adjacent to the Howqua River ford in the Alpine National Park. The first hut was built about 1914 and was of vertical slab format. It was presumed to have been built by Jim Ware. A photograph of Jim Barclay (later to be murdered at Wonnangatta [more later]) shows him in front of a hut of this construction and dated 1916.
The current hut is the second (early 1930s) or the third (about 1937) built of Broad Leaf Peppermint logs, standing eight high (though you need to duck through the doorway). They are butt ended at the northern end. The roof poles are bark covered eucalyptus with a double ridge pole, covered with corrugated iron and some iron sheeting. The floor was originally of stone, but this has disappeared. The fireplace was rebuilt in 1986 of stone. The hut is very simple, devoid of windows and furniture.
The old and the new - Howqua Gap Huts
Some miles kilometres from the Howqua Hills huts are the 2 Howqua Gap Huts (also known as Howqua Hut or Woollybutt Saddle Hut), situated beside the Circuit Road at Howqua Gap high on the slopes separating Mt Buller from Mt Stirling.. The older hut was built about 1968 as a base for logging operations.  It is a weatherboard hut, with an iron roof and wooden floor. There is a brick fireplace, iron chimney, shelf and seat, the walls are lined with tongue and groove timber. The newly erected hut has sliding aluminium windows.
Razorback huts
Razorback Huts located near King Saddle, off the Buller-Stirling Circuit Rd, are also known as The Razorback Hilton and Purcells Hut. The original hut was built in 1953 and has since been extended, with bunks for more than 40 people in a number of different buildings. There are now three large huts (2 weatherboard & one iron), two sheds and yards. The huts were fully refurbished in 2008 and re-opened by VHCHA.
A welcoming interior - Razorback Hut
Mountain No.3 Refuge Hut was rebuilt in 2008 by the North Eastern Trail Horse Riding Club, 1.5km south of the original hut built in 1985 by the Mansfield Nordic Ski Club, which was burnt in the 2006/7 Alpine Bushfire.
Mountain No.3 Refuge surrounded by snow gums
Walhalla Hut (graffiti on the wall states ‘Barcoo rule”) is located at the side of the Matlock-Walhalla Road This hut has an unknown history, but it may have been built to support road construction in the 1920's. It has a sawn wooden frame and iron walls and roof. There was once a wooden floor, but this has virtually disappeared. An iron fireplace stands in parts at one end. Used by AAWT walkers who have pitched their tents inside in bad weather.
Walhalla Hut
 More High Country huts in the next post.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

To live on

I was surprised the other day to find that 3 authors had chosen to write adaptations of Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet". Here we are, more than 400 years later still living through the bitter-sweet tragedy.

The first is by the prolific Jackie French with 'I am Juliet'. It takes the well-known story of Juliet Capulet and her love for Romeo, with Juliet our heroine determined to choose her own destiny. It is also the story about the increasing helplessness Juliet feels as she realises that unlike young men her age, her life will effectively be determined and controlled by others, who see her having an arranged marriage of alliance and becoming a breeder of sons. 'I am Juliet' closely follows the well-known plot of the play, but we also see the point of view of Rob, the 13-year-old boy who is the first to play the Shakespearean role of Juliet on the Elizabethan stage. Like many young people today, he too is overwhelmed by 'all those words' that Shakespeare wrote. But Rob realises that the story of love and tragedy is a somewhat simple one and the words are there for their extraordinary beauty and meaning. He will be Juliet and let the power of the words sing - as they still do today.

The next is really two books - 'Juliet immortal' and its sequel 'Romeo redeemed' by Stacey Jay. With a supernatural bent, here contrary to legend, Juliet Capulet didn't commit suicide. She was actually murdered by her new husband, Romeo Montague, who made the sacrifice to ensure his own immortality. However, what Romeo didn't anticipate was that Juliet too would be granted eternity, and become an agent for the Ambassadors of Light. For over 700 years, the souls of Romeo and Juliet have repeatedly inhabited the bodies of newly deceased people, locked in a battle to the death as sworn enemies for the souls of true lovers, struggling to preserve romantic love and the lives of the innocent. Now, they meet for the last time as two Southern California high school students, as Juliet falls in love for the first time in centuries, Romeo schemes to destroy her fledgling relationship - yes it is different! 

But of course, it couldn't end there. There had to be 'Romeo redeemed'. Cursed to live out eternity in his rotted corpse, Romeo, known for his ruthless, cutthroat ways, is given the chance to redeem himself by traveling back in time to save the life of Ariel Dragland. Unbeknownst to her, Ariel is important to both the evil Mercenaries and the love-promoting Ambassadors of Light, and holds the fate of the world in her hands. Romeo must win her heart and make her believe in love, turning her away from her darker potential before his work is discovered by the Mercenaries. While his seduction begins as yet another lie, it soon becomes his only truth. Romeo vows to protect Ariel from harm, and do whatever it takes to win her heart and soul. But when Ariel is led to believe his love is a deception, she becomes vulnerable to Mercenary manipulation, and her own inner darkness may ultimately rip them apart. It isn't The Bard, but then you could have guessed that from the beginning.

Finally comes 'Prince of Shadows' by Rachel Caine. In the Houses of Montague and Capulet, there is only one goal: power. The boys are born to fight and die for honour and - if they survive - marry for influence and money, not love. The girls are assets, to be spent wisely. Their wishes are of no import. Their fates are written the day they are born. Benvolio Montague, cousin to Romeo, knows all this. He expects to die for his cousin, for his House, but a spark of rebellion still lives inside him. At night, he is the Prince of Shadows, the greatest thief in Verona - and he risks all as he steals from House Capulet. In doing so, he sets eyes on convent-bound Rosaline, and a terrible curse begins that will claim the lives of many in Verona...and will rewrite all their fates, forever.
These books were all written for the youth market, so abound with supernatural romance.

Monday, 22 December 2014

5. A Thing for Local History

Mobile Thing 5 = Photos + Maps + Apps 
 I first tried out HistoryPin when it was in Beta mode a few years ago. It has come on since then with more functionality, but you still don't want to give it too many commands in close succession.

The first task - use the app to take a photo of an old/local building and pin it. I chose the now defunct Nhill Library, and worked through the steps - easy, the effort was the time it spent uploading it from the phone to HistoryPin, ended up clicking on the Stop button and trying via WiFi. It uploaded quickly but only the photo not the information or location, so had to enter that on the pc. 

Playing with the What Was There, loved the image of the Terminus Hotel in Ararat (it is the building at the end of the small street between the YMCA and KFC), fiddling with the fade in street view.

Decided to be a little ambitious and undertake one of the Explore tasks: Create a Tour on HistoryPin. As someone had said earlier, I should do a photo slideshow about Ebenezer, I decided to use it as my theme, if I'd had permission for some of the other historic images it would have been better, so had to settle for ones I'd here it is - Ebenezer Aboriginal Mission tour just click on the blue 'Take the tour' box.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Phantom photo

The headline from PetaPixel screams: Peter Lik Print Sells for $6.5 Million, Shattering Record for Most Expensive Photo.
Australian landscape photographer Peter Lik has taken the crown for most expensive photo ever sold. “Phantom,” the picture shown above, was sold to a private collector for a staggering $6.5 million. The record was previously held by Andreas Gursky’s “Rhein II”, which sold for $4.3 million in 2011.
“Phantom” was captured at Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon that’s popular among landscape photographers, and shows a beam of light resembling a “ghostlike figure” (hence the name). It’s a black-and-white version of a photograph that has also been printed in colour with the title, “Ghost”.
Lik also announced that the same buyer purchased two other photographs “Illusion” for $2.4 million and “Eternal Moods” $1.1 million (he previously sold “One” for $1 million back in 2011), giving Lik four photos in the list of 20 most expensive photos of all time.
I have a whole book of Peter’s Blue Mountains images, so are they worth tens of millions?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Into this

This is one story which passed me by and I’ve only just discovered it – ‘Into the wild’ Jon Krakauer’s retelling of Chris McCandless’ tale.

I enjoyed Jon’s storytelling style in ‘Into thin air’, and have to admit it was the same with ‘Into the wild’ (do you see a theme here?). I was reading the library’s ebook version and I found it hard to put down, I’d get a few minutes and start reading, was at the hairdressers and peering at it via the small phone screen – and this was despite already knowing the ending! It wasn’t enough though, after reading the book I had to check out the film. Sean Penn directed the movie version which is based on Jon's book and told in a series of flashbacks.

It is based on the true story of Christopher McCandless played by Emile Hirsch.The film is beautifully shot, and I liked the concept of utilising the words from Chris' postcards on the screen.

The Plot: When he graduated in May 1990, Christopher had rejected the trappings of his conventional life – cutting up his credit cards and ID, donating his college fund savings ($24,000) to Oxfam, and instead he sets out to experience life in the wilderness – without telling anyone, in fact masquerading his activities.

Chris’ old yellow Datsun is caught in a flash flood, so he just abandons it. He burns his last money, begins hitchhiking, and assumes the name: Alexander Supertramp. As Alex he encounters different people who take him in (and listen to his philosophy on life). But he keeps moving on, captivated with the idea of going north to Alaska.

In April 1992, Chris arrives in a remote area of the Denali National Park in Alaska, and sets up camp in an abandoned bus used by hunters. At first, he is content with the isolation, the beauty of nature, and the thrill of living off the land.

Months later, he encounters difficulties, life becomes harder and he becomes less discerning. As his supply of rice (his staple) begins to run out, he realises that the nature he wants to experience is also harsh and uncaring and unrelenting, and he decides to return to civilisation, his family and friends. But, the stream he had crossed before the Spring melt is now a torrent and uncrossable (at least from where he is standing).

Seemly doomed, he returns to the bus, now as a prisoner no longer in control of his fate and reliant on help from the outside. Forced to gather and eat roots& berries, he apparently confuses two similar plants and suffers from an inability to digest food and wastes away. He writes a farewell to the world and crawls into his sleeping bag to die. Two weeks later, his body is found by groups of moose hunters.

When the events happened it caused a flood of comments which polarised people who considered him a free spirit, and those who considered him an unprepared innocent abroad. Similarities have since been drawn with Timothy Treadwell who was killed by a bear in 2003.

But concentrating on Jon’s telling of the story, some is supposition on what caused Chris to eat the seeds, what truly motivated him etc. There is also a chapter on Jon’s experiences climbing the Devil’s Thumb illustrating the parallels between his early life and Chris’. Jon investigated the story, he spoke with Chris' family and the people he had met on his travels.

In the resulting book, Jon seeks to examine and explain the obsession which leads some people to explore the outer limits of self, leave civilisation behind and seek enlightenment through solitude and contact with nature.

I have to admit amongst a whole host of thoughts I was left wondering, would it have ended differently if Chris had not found the bus refuge, would his experience have been curtailed if he wasn't cocooned by the added physical security provided by the bus' living conditions, and headed home sooner?? We'll never know.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

'Tis the season

'Tis the season for producing Christmas books - both bestselling authors releasing a new title 'just in time for gift giving', and an array of picture books of traditional and humourous themes.

The best I've come across is "There was an old bloke who swallowed a present" by P. Crumble and illustrated by Louis Shea.
It is in the same vein as our successful rendition of the other story "There was an old lady who swallowed a mozzie". 
The main character - the 'Ned Kelly' bloke

The gist is:-
* He swallowed the choir to serenade the snowman
* He swallowed the snowman to cool down the turkey
* He swallowed the turkey to nibble the gingerbread
* He swallowed the gingerbread to read the card
* He swallowed the card to go with the present, (and we)
* don't know why he swallowed that present (but we do know that)
* Now that's not pleasant!

And we know it's not going to end well, but you'll have to read the whole story to know what happens.
Wonderful cameos by the Gingerbread Man
So keep an eye on your Christmas tree and guard your stockings because now he's on the hunt for more Christmas snacks!
A great addition to the "There was a..." series.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Fields of Battle - Lands of Peace

Just after Remembrance Day comes Fields of Battle—Lands of Peace 14-18  the work of photojournalist Michael St Maur Sheil.  Captured over a period of seven years, Michael’s photography combines a passion for history and landscape and presents a unique reflection on the transformation of the battlefields of the Great War into the landscape of modern Europe.

Here are just a few of his images

Lochnagar Crater is one of the iconic remnants of the Somme battlefield and just as in the war, one can really only appreciate its true scale from the air. Created by British tunnellers who dug a 600m (0.37 miles)tunnel to reach a point under the German lines where they then placed 50,000lbs of high explosive which was detonated on the 1st July 1916 creating a hole over 90m wide (295’) and 30m deep (98’).

The landscape of the Newfoundland Memorial Park, in Beaumont Hamel in France, with trenches, shell crater and wire pickets. Part of the Somme battlefield, the battle began on 1 July 1916 and ended in a muddy quagmire in mid-November (the Allies advanced only five miles (8km)). The Newfoundland Regiment, nearly 800 men, was virtually wiped out on the first day.

The pockmarked landscape of the Ouvrage du Thiamont battlefield close to Verdun, France still bearing the testimony of the savage ferocity of the fighting. In recent years Verdun has become a symbol of reconciliation between Germany and France – a fitting recognition that during the 10 month battle the opposing sides suffered over 700,000 casualties in total.

Butte de Vauquois, Argonne, France.
The Butte itself is a steep-sided hill which was the site of a village which was captured by the Germans in September 1914. Subsequently the French gained a foot-hold on the summit and both sides began a campaign of mining which lasted until February 1918. The furious mining and counter mining blew away the entire hill-top and today the small village lies at the foot of the hill. Underground there are approximately 17,000 metres of galleries, the deepest of which is 104m, and over 150 chambers and rooms. One of the mines planted here contained over 60 tons of high explosive and was the largest single mine explosion on the Western Front. The photograph above clearly shows the nature of the fighting: the curving line in the bottom centre of the frame is the German front line and the white edifice above that marks the French front line which at this point is about 40 metres distant.

St Symphorien Cemetery was established by the Germans after the Battle of Mons in August 1914 it contains both their own dead as well of those of their British adversaries. Indeed the first British soldier to be killed in combat, Pvt. John Parr is buried here and by an odd quirk of fate the last two Commonwealth soldiers to be killed in the war are buried here. Hainaut in Belgium was originally a potash mine but is now a cemetery of real beauty and tranquillity.

View from Cavernes des Dragons southwards over La Vallee Foulon towards French positions

From August 2014 to November 2018, sixty of Michael’s powerful images will be publicly exhibited around the UK and then internationally; bringing the centenary of the Great War to tens of millions of people in their own communities. You can find more information on the exhibition at

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Out of this world books

A collection sci-fi/adventure film books passed my desk today.
Pacific Rim : Man, Machines & Monsters chronicles the production of the film with stunning concept art, captivating photography, and cast and crew descriptions of the shoot.
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, start rising from the sea, a war begins that will take millions in lives and consume humanity’s resources for years. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special weapon is devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, that are piloted by an international crew of soldiers in the Pan Pacific Defense Corps. But even the Jaegers prove nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, two unlikely heroes:- a washed-up former pilot and an untested trainee - team up to pilot a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger on a mission to halt the mounting apocalypse. The book chronicles the production of the film with stunning concept art, captivating photography, and cast and crew descriptions of the shoot.

Terminator vault : the complete story behind the making of the ‘Terminator’ and ‘Terminator 2: Judgment day presented in a slip case it has a number of pockets of ephemera through its pages.
Born out of James Cameron's fever dream, the relentless Terminator has become a cinematic juggernaut. The original ground-breaking film, The Terminator, and its mighty sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, not only assured the blockbuster career of their director but also turned their star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, into an icon. Movies about the dark side of humanity's love affair with technology, they redefined the boundaries between science fiction, horror and action, and set astonishing new standards for special effects.
The vault brings to light the stories behind the landmark films drawing on interviews with James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger and other cast members. There are storyboards, rare photos of the miniatures, diagrams

George Lucas spent almost 10 years bringing his dream project to life: a ground-breaking space fantasy movie - a swashbuckling sci-fi saga inspired by vintage Flash Gordon serials, classic American westerns, and mythological heroes. Its original title: The Star Wars. The rest is history. Yet its production is a story as entertaining and exciting as the film itself. Now, recounted in the words of those who were there, it is finally being told, for the first time. During the years 1975 to 1978, over 50 interviews were conducted with key members of the cast and crew. Remarkably these interviews have sat, undisturbed, in the Lucasfilm Archives for three decades. Until now. The interviews are fresh, candid and - above all - more accurate than many other reported accounts.

Now linking Star War with the last book is Harrison Ford - he stars in both. Based on the best-selling novel, "Ender's Game" Jed Alger's Ender's Game : inside the world of an epic adventure tells the thrilling story of the fight to save the world from a devastating future. I remember reading "Enders Game" (which became the first of the Ender Wiggins series) years ago. In this official companion volume, the behind-the-scenes world of the film are brought into stunning focus. Packed with in-depth interviews, removable posters and army badges, stunning concept art, unparalleled access to the visual effects archives at Digital Domain, and countless full-colour images, this insightful insider's view of the making of "Ender's Game" will bring fans closer into the world of the movie, following cast and crew as it is brought to dazzling life.  
Like the films they portray these coffee-table books are bigger than life, bright and flashly, full of impossibilities, and a wonderful introduction to the films themselves.