It was a little before 2pm on Sunday, the 4th of July, 2010. I felt like I had the whole Sheoak Falls area to myself as I stood on the viewing platform at Swallow Cave, setting up my equipment (lazy, I know… although I had been shooting at various points along the Great Ocean Road for 7 hours already). I had not seen another soul since leaving the car park, not even while shooting the Sheoak Falls for an hour or so, nor while walking up the hill to Swallow Cave. I had discovered the peace and tranquillity that makes landscape photography my genre of choice… until I heard footsteps behind me. Frustrated, I turned around… to see a vision of beauty joining me on the viewing platform.
“Hi, how’s it going?” I blurted out uncontrollably with an equally uncontrollable smile. She answered, but I didn’t hear what she said.
She was more adventurous than me as she made her way around my equipment and slid down through the hole in the side of the viewing platform and on to the slippery rocks below. Instead of walking out across the rocks, she stood there and looked up at me.
“Did you want to get some shots before I make a mess of it?” she asked with a smile.
“No, no, you’re alright, go for it,” I answered, totally disbelieving that a member of the public would actually take a moment to consider what the landscape photographer was doing.
She skipped across the rocks and wandered around over the other side of the cascades, while I stood there taking my photos. Before long, she was back at the bottom of the viewing platform, trying to climb back up the slippery rocks that had been much easier to navigate on the way down.
“Would you like a hand there?” I asked.
“Yeah, I might,” she answered, reaching up and taking hold of my outstretched palm.
She had an accent that I couldn’t quite place, and given that we were at a popular location along the Great Ocean Road, I asked the most obvious question, “What else have you seen while you’ve been here?”
“You mean, in a tourist way?” she replied, “I’ve lived here for 12 years!”
I apologised for the assumption and we agreed that it was a forgivable mistake. She kept the conversation going, asking about my photography and my other interests. It quickly became obvious that she possessed intellect in addition to her beauty… she was switched on, asking me questions that would draw out my personal details without asking me for any of them directly (for example, instead of asking for my name, she asked if I was a famous photographer and whether or not she would know my work if I told her my name… I was even more impressed when she followed up by laughing and saying, “I thought I might have been talking to” and rattling off a list of famous Australian landscape photographers). Before I knew it, she knew all about me!
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for me. Although I managed to ask her about her interests and so on (and found it very cute when she had to think about her interests, and the first thing she came up with was “skinny dipping”, with “bush walking” in second place), sadly the need for basic details came to me when it was too late. At some stage during our conversation, her friend caught up and arrived on the viewing platform, went out and explored the cascades (while we continued our conversation on the viewing platform), and then came back and whisked my newfound friend away. They already had a great head start on me before I realised I hadn’t even found out her name.
I had never been so careless in packing up my equipment as I was at that moment (although nothing was left behind and nothing was broken, thankfully), but I wanted to catch up to them so that I could at least find out her name. I never caught up to them. I remembered her asking me where else I planned on going that afternoon, and thankfully I remembered my answer. So, I abandoned my previous practise of stopping at anything that looked interesting along the Great Ocean Road, and headed straight to where I said I had hoped to get to that afternoon, in the hope that her question was a loaded one that would see us bumping into each other a second time. Sadly, it didn’t work out that way, and my drive home tonight was a long and lonely one!
EPIC FAIL! *sigh*