The three characters at the conclusion of this story are based on three
Australian TV sports personalities named Paul "Fatty" Voutin, Steve "Blocker"
Roach and Peter "Sterlo" Sterling. These guys do the advertising on Aussie TV
for a budget clothing company called Lowes. These ads are a 'Mickey Take' of
those very cheap TV adds where an amateur sales person would shout numbers at
Saved by the Lowe-Pro's
Being what I call a serious 'hammer-chewier' photographer, I treated myself
to some of Nikon's finer equipment. Semi-pro gear such as an F801 with a couple
of lenses, filters, an SB24 flash, a tripod and other sundry items that any
would be photographer would be proud to possess.
Understanding the necessity to protect my much loved gear, I saw the need for
a sturdy camera bag. Now, camera bags come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and
quality; but as is the way of this world. "Yer gets what yer pays for". With
this in mind I set out on a program of research that would require much
fortitude and stamina... However, that is a story my grandchildren will enjoy
one day, so let us continue…
This camera bag would have to be large enough to accommodate a fair amount of
apparatus, sturdy enough to carry the weight and waterproof, should I ever be
overtaken by a deluge of antediluvian dimensions whilst on special assignment in
the Australian bush.
After much pondering and heartache I plumped for the Lowe-Pro Photo Trekker,
and this is where the real story begins... So! Are you sitting comfortable...?
Then let us begin...
Having decided that my first outing with my new acquisition was to be a test
of some magnitude, not just a test of the camera bag and its precious cargo, its
comfort and handling would be of paramount consideration. But I also needed to
see if I myself was up to carrying the prestigious names of Lowe-Pro and Nikon
with aplomb. So, feeling very proud of myself I set off for the Valley of the
Waters at Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains National Park in NSW Australia.
With fear and trepidation and concerned with the future of Nikon and Lowe-Pro
camera bags reputation, feeling they may be relying on the outcome of this
intrepid adventure, I set off for the Conservation Hut at the top of the path
leading down into the Valley of the Waters.
I parked my car in a shady spot near the toilet block. Now I presume that
everyone is familiar with this neck of the woods, so I will not bore you with a
minutiae detailed description of the said block, or of the car park with its
various overflowing Otto Wheelie bins, in their drab green camouflage. Bins,
with a apparent jaunty half cocked salute of the lid, somewhat like the slouched
cap of the Australian bushman who have a cheeky scant regard for authority...
Can you imagine... Bins with an apparent attitude, simply because someone had
not bothered to press down on a bulging lid. Anyway I digress…
Nor will I bother to recount the numerous gaggles of bush walkers standing
around in groups of five or six. Looking at a map placed on the back of some
poor volunteer walker who was bent over forming a table for the said map whilst
someone stuck a pin in the place they had decided to explore.
Purchasing a couple of drinks from the kiosk and dropping them into my tripod
holder slung beneath the Photo Trekker securely perched on my back, I began the
steep descent into the misty valley.
Praying to the great yellow god that my choice of film DIN/ISO was correct,
and with my heart pounding in anticipation of the wonders yet to behold, I
resisted the urge to whistle "I love to go a wandering, my knapsack on my
back"... This was to be a serious case study in the practicalities of photo
trekking. So far so good, the bag was comfortable; there was no chaffing of the
shoulders from the straps. In my minds eye, I pictured the anguish of the
ladies, struggling with the straps on their upper body undergarments. Striving
to maintain some dignity and equilibrium of presentation whilst heaving
breathlessly after an exciting exertion... With a renewed insight into the
fashion industry and feminine design engineering I continued down, down, down
into the bosom of the earth.
At the foot of many of the sets of stairs that goes down into The Valley of
the Waters. I paused to take my breath and a few shots at my surroundings. After
the smoke had cleared I took out my trusty Nikon F801 and proceeded to take some
photos as well. (Yes well somebody had to do it)
In this area there are lots of waterfalls and a fine misty spray filters all
around making a perfect rain forest environment. There are beautiful Ferns and a
canopy of trees occasionally allows the bright sun to poor shafts of yellow
light penetrating the eerie bottle green atmosphere of the forest, it truly is
Close by is the town where I live. Its name, Katoomba, is derived from the
Aboriginal name for the sound for falling waters. A spectacular area for the
landscape photographer, however, it’s also a very moist and slippery
As I was about to crick away at an Autumn Maple Leaf I’d spied resting on a
soggy log, my foot slipped on the mossy sand stone rocks bordering the path. Now
my dear friends, picture this scenario if you can. With my camera in my hand I
began a gentle but fear inspiring slide down the path to an unknown destination.
With my balance like that of a wino; a drunken man of the night at any time of
the day. I began gliding and pirouetting as if on ice. With my camera held high,
I felt sure my appearance would have giving any would be Torvel and Dean the
greatest of inspiration. I thrust out my free hand to try and grab a small but
stout tree on the high side of the path...
Now!... Isn't it strange that when an incident such as this befalls anyone,
something happens that man in all his contrivance can never fathom... Murphy's
Now as we all are aware, Murphy's Law knows no boundaries. As I drifted down
toward the base of a waterfall with its pond of indeterminate depth and the
colour of stagnant tea without milk, I still had my faithful F801 held aloft as
if it were Jane Torvel herself. Fearing I was about to do a triple Fosby flop
into a baptism of uncertainty, I tried to grab the small but stout tree.
Unfortunately, I seemed to twist around, only to feel myself come to a gentle
but abrupt stop. Being somewhat in a daze it required a little time to gather my
thoughts together. It was then I found my person in a predicament too difficult
to explain...but never the less... I will try.
You see! I discovered to my amazement, that the small but stout tree had in
some way become entangled in my Photo Trekker still strapped to my rear. It had
managed to get itself up between my back and the camera bag. And now, it
appeared to be sprouting out the top of my head much like the weekend warriors
we see wearing environmentally sensitive produce to help them blend in with
their surroundings. No matter how many times one may repeat such a manoeuvre,
the position I find myself in could never be achieved again... Hence; Murphy's
Law... but... unlike the camouflage of the Territorial Army my bush was still
planted firmly in the ground.
Now woe upon woe's, this was where my troubles really began...You see in the
process of becoming entangled in the small but stout tree, the straps of my
camera bag, had in some extraordinary way become twisted around to the back,
so... I was unable to reach them. Imagine if you can the predicament I now found
myself in, I was firmly stuck, I could not move, it was as if I was firmly
anchored by this small but stout tree to the ground. I can see you nodding your
head and feeling very sympathetic toward me, dear reader your humane compassion
is much appreciated.
Just then I heard voices coming up the path toward me. Thinking that my
salvation was at hand I looked around to see a gaggle of gangly youths; of
indeterminate sex, coming back up from their trip down to the valley
(I have never been able to work out the meaning
of all those ear and nose rings). You know, it never ceases to amaze me
how the youth of today try so desperately to be different and yet in their
endeavours to be so, still wear a uniform of sorts. The specimens now
approaching me were no strangers to this persuasion. Wearing long peaked caps
and tea shirts with some macho missive emblazoned across a sunken chest, is to
my mind a conformity of sorts.
I hope that you will understand my predicament and embarrassment. You see I
did not wish to look foolish in front of these young people. As I am a teacher
with a good deal of respect to maintain I felt that discretion was the better
part of valour, and knowing the temperament of modern youth
(yes some are thicker than others) I
decided to say and do nothing in regard to the approaching throng. I sincerely
believed that it would look like I was leaning nonchalantly against the tree.
Breathlessly, trying to whistle Wagner’s The Mastersingers from Nierenberg, I
pretended to be making minor adjustments to my F801.
As they passed me by I overheard one whisper "ya'd fink he'd use is twypod
wouldn't ya" in reply another one said "Boy!...that must be a looong exposure...
Noootttt!!!...did ya see that twee growing out'f his ead!...". And so they
continued along the path laughing and joking at my expense.
Perhaps because my pride was feeling a little delicate at that moment I am
not sure, but as they departed I thought of many insults I could hurl after
them, but being a family man I feel that I can only share a couple of them with
I curtailed the urge to shout, "Can't ya read the size label on ya shorts",
they were so baggy three cricket bats and an open umbrella could fit in them. Or
"Don't yer know how to use a mirror" they had their caps on back to front. But,
realising I was outnumbered and a little incapacitated at that time I suppressed
the desire to retaliate.
However, something else was about to occupy my dishevelled mind. Slowly, I
became aware of a noise so loud that I thought I was hearing an excerpt from
Apocalypse Now. Something seemed to be thrashing around in the bush and there
was shouting so loud, that the Rolling Stones concert in all its glory did not
have as thunderous an effect as this, which seemed to be terrifyingly heading my
way at this very moment.
Three large gentlemen of disproportionate size came bounding out of the bush
dressed in football shorts and shirts of various colours and calling at the tops
of their voices.
"9.99" shouted the largest of the threesome.
"29.99" roared the red headed one.
"Where-do-yer-get-it" spruiked the third. And then they would repeat
continually in turn.
At that moment they spotted me in my plight, the middle one saying...
"Hey Bloke! What have we here?"
"Well, well, well look at this...Phartie" (I
think that's what he called him?)
"Lets help him out" sang the third so loud he must have spooked the bird
still sitting in its nest in the small but stout tree above my head.
(I can still see the disgusting stain on my
And with no more ado they grabbed me by the elbows and lifted me up and over
the small but stout tree and replaced me on the footpath. By the time I had
gathered myself together and collected my thoughts they had continued on their
journey like a juggernaut, without even a bye your leave. Their voices still
chorusing numbers, their echo's diminishing into the valley.
With pride restored and dignity in tact I pondered the events that had just
overtaken me. It was only after they had gone that I realised I had been rescued
by the twenty four hour road side service called, The Digital Prose from Lowes.
The Lowe-Pro Photo-Trekker is still my favourite camera bag.