7 days, poems & photography. Oct 7

Coffs Creek

Coffs Creek, Coffs Harbour, is Buluunggal in Gumbaynggirr, which means mullet.

This is where Gumbaynggirr elder Uncle Mark Flanders
grew up, played and fished, where his family caught
wildfowl and where things were changing fast.


I am with my machine, happy to take things from the creek,
a sink, two Royal Spoonbills, and four small Black Cormorants.

My earliest experience on the water – I found a little box in the mangroves, was just a little wooden box about a metre square, about six inches high. And I plugged the edges with mud to stop it from leaking, and I’d stand in that with a stick and poke myself along up the creek there, go from one side of the creek to the other. And by the time I got to the other side it would start sinking and then I got worried about the sting rays cause they were like this table here, like huge floor mats. It got me from one side of the creek to the other, then we found an old canoe up the creek made of two Volkswagen bonnets, we had a great time in that till it got stolen, and then we got an old fibreglass rowing boat which we used up the creek every day. We were constantly fishing getting crabs, oysters. We just loved it back then you know, we’d be on the creek morning, lunch, night, all the time.

Uncle Mark Flanders, Gumbaynggirr elder. From the Solitary Islands oral history project.

Photography is a marvellous discovery, a science that has attracted the greatest intellects, an art that excites the most astute minds – and one that can be practised by any imbecile. Nadar. The pseudonym of the French photographer, journalist, novelist and balloonist. Testimony from a lawsuit. Quoted by Beaumont Newhall, The history of photography from 1839 to the present day, New York, Museum of Modern Art, 1982, p66.