Sunday, July 25, 2010

The north passage

An early departure.
Time that is moved by little fidget wheels
Between the double and the single bell
Is not my time, the flood that does not flow.
A setting moon.
Deep and dissolving verticals of light
Ferry the falls of moonshine down.

Channel marker.
In the moon's drench, that straight enormous glaze,
And ships far off asleep, and Harbour-buoys
Tossing their fireballs wearily each to each
(Excerpts from Five Bells. Kenneth Slessor.)

This morning's passage from Felix Bay on the lower harbour to the upper-most capillaries of Middle Harbour was done mostly in complete and beautiful darkness.
The timing of the passage coinciding with the peak of this morning's flood tide.

The images above and below are taken at East Killara and North Forestville where the salty Pacific Ocean of the harbour blurs into increasingly brackish channels and finally a fresh water creek.

The three narrow channels branching off into the valleys of Killara and Forestville are tightly enclosed by the trunks and canopies of tall trees crowding down to the water's edge.

The sky traces the creek's path through the tree canopies.

At Carrol Creek, in the Garigal National Park, the watery track is interrupted by a rock staircase, small waterfalls and rills. A kayak portage is required to get up to the creek that lies wholly above the high-tide level. It is completely fresh.

Quietly paddling into this extraordinary tributary of Sydney Harbour.

Drifting into the last navigable metres of Middle Harbour accompanied by birdsong and the overhanging parasols of tree ferns. The air temperature was low - my finger tips an alarming blue.

Turning around, and with the sky now illuminated, the landscape that I had paddled through for almost three hours in the dark was revealed in all its transcendant beauty.

Of the hundreds of buildings that lined this morning's kayak route only one came even near responding successfully to its landscape context in a harmonious way. This house tucked into the western face of Seaforth shows a sensible hand at work in fracturing the building's form into two volumes and cladding the exterior in vertical boards of clear-treated hardwood. It's a low-key and sensitive solution to inserting a building into a distinctive landscape.

Sailing back into familiar territory ...

... and arriving home 6 hours and 45 minutes since leaving.