Hannah and Michael

Country wedding: Mudgee, NSW, Australia

The Roaring Days
by Henry Lawson

The night too quickly passes
And we are growing old,
So let us fill our glasses
And toast the Days of Gold;
When finds of wondrous treasure
Set all the South ablaze,
And you and I were faithful mates
All through the roaring days!

…Oh, who would paint a goldfield,
And limn the picture right,
As we have often seen it
In early morning’s light;
The yellow mounds of mullock
With spots of red and white,
The scattered quartz that glistened
Like diamonds in light;
The azure line of ridges,
The bush of darkest green,
The little homes of calico
That dotted all the scene.

_________

I thought it only fitting to include a fragment of a poem by Australias’ adored Henry Lawson, seeing as Hannah & Michael are writers, and I admire anyone with the gift of spinning a yarn. Lawson was schooled briefly in a little shack in Eurunderee, Mudgee. The same landscape where Hannah & Michael were wed. I met Hannah almost 10 years ago, when we worked for The Financial Review in Sydney, she as a journalist and I as a photographer. For her to contact me from their apartment in New York, asking me to document her country wedding was wonderful. It’s always great to reconnect with people, and to see Hannah again, so beautiful & thriving with Michael, her equally dashing brand-new-husband was an honour. Their quirky humour infiltrated the wedding and set everyone at ease. It made perfect sense that after days of rain, mother nature ignited the sky…

Location: Di Lusso Estate, Mudgee

For all images click here…

Sara & Brendan

 

Sara & Brendan – Wedding – Freshwater.

I didn’t know that softly spoken Sara was a long jump champion, until her proud father paced out just how far she could jump at 6 years old, during his speech. I also didn’t know that Brendan cares deeply for the environment, and is living his beliefs. This is the thing about weddings – you find out the best things at the end. I could go on, but instead I’ll put this little saying i’ve had playing in my head while looking through these pictures:

The sun never knew how beautiful it was until it saw itself reflected on the side of a wall

(ancient Sufi poem)

 

 

Beautiful Claire & Ned, Emu bottom ….

 

 

It is with massive happiness that I show these images of my beautiful cousin Claire & Ned at the homestead of Emu Bottom, Victoria. There are, of course more pictures, please feel free to check them out. A gorgeous wedding of two hilarious and wonderful people and (as it so happens) two hilarious and wonderful families. x

 

A little bit rock n roll…

A wedding in a home is always extra special. Make it a home on the harbour where the wedding guests are transported by ferry boat to the MCA for a reception on the rooftop and you have something just a little bit rock n roll, in my humble opinion. Michael & Lucy, your wedding day was amazing.

Timor Leste

So this is another of my “departures from weddings”. Sometimes it’s good to mix it up a bit, and after meeting the quietly amazing Tamara Sloper Harding I had just that chance.

As a former intelligence officer for INTERFET during the war of Timor-Leste (East Timor) with Indonesia in the early 2000′s, Tamara now returns a number of times a year to help at Soibada, one of the most remote areas of one of Asia’s newest (and poorest) countries.

This time she brought with her a piano, bags of handknitted blankets for the orphanage as well as financial help. Her next goals are to have the bridge repaired (so the village will no longer be cut off in the rainy season) and to get Sister Manuela (one of only 2 nuns who care for 52 children at the orphanage) a motorbike, to save the 75 year old nun the 3 hour walk from the orphanage to the village. Tamara also organises fundraising nights in Sydney. Every last cent is given to the village and Tamara (a mum of 4) pays for her plane tickets herself. As I mentioned, quietly amazing!

But most impressive are the East Timorese. They have it tough. Living off a small bucket of water each per day, they must walk a long way with old jerry cans at dawn to the nearest trickle of river to get this water. They grow their own food (which as you could imagine is not easy to water when you have to carry it all). Mostly they eat fried taro, banana and sweet potato. A bag of rice costs US $15 from the single tiny store.  There is intermittent electricity and no infrastructure. Yet they are so patient. The women manage to feed a cast of thousands by cooking up bulk buckets of noodles and rice. They feed their guests meat (even killing a water buffalo for the visiting bishop during our visit) but very rarely eat it themselves. Tiny children wake before dawn to sweep the road in front of their school. In 2 weeks I never heard anyone raise their voice at the children who are well-behaved and affectionate, giggling and walking arm in arm. They are given big responsibilites at a young age: collecting water, cleaning and using machetes to cut through overgrowth. When they meet an elder (such as the nuns) they kiss them on both cheeks, then the back of the hand as a sign of respect. They also serve Madiera cake to guests (although strangely before dinner). These European gestures are from the Portugese influence, who ruled them for 600 years and left in 1975.

My intention was to make images in Timor Leste using my one skill to contribute to our East Timorese neighbours, but I think I took away more than I gave – lessons in patience, resilience and faith.

 

Tamara…

Soibada – looking across to the church & school.

This is where Nobel Peace Prize winner & President Jose Ramos Horta & Former Prime Minister (& leader of the Falantil freedom fighters) Xanana Gusmao were educated.

Sister Manuela & Sister Ella (photo bombing!)

These nuns care for 52 orphans. Can you imagine putting all those children to bed in the one room? Every night?

Sister Ella making a “Soibada Bloom”, burning the edges of an old polyester shirt to make flowers for hats…
Some of the children of Salau Orphanage
Some of these childrens lost their parents in the war of independence…
Watching the graduates dance. Most of the young orphans began to cry as the graduates have to leave once they turn 16.

They hope to find work as house help for a family in Dili or perhaps being accepted into a convent.

Sister Manuela returns after a week in Soibada
The remote mountain village of Tasi Fatin, a long journey across rugged cliff edges and conjoined potholes from Soibada.

This is where the freedom fighters, led by Xanana Gusmao hid in the cloud covered mountains during the war of independence with Indonesia (1975 – 1999)

The public school in Soibada.
Lining up for a cup of milk…
Artist Patricio Da Cruz Quintao at home
Quintao in front of his painting of Xanana Gusmao (left) and detail of a painting of a young boy alone with a Nintendo controller.

Patricio saw children like this in Jakarta, (where he studied) and he fears the same future for the children of Timor Leste.

A woman in Dili making a traditional ‘thais’, which are worn as skirts
Tamara carried the piano (which was kindly donated) from Sydney in a ute, through Darwin, onto two planes and then a 4X4 to Soibada.
Ray the jazz musician gives an impromptu piano lesson
Women celebrating the Virgin Mary, which appeared in a vision on the mountain above Soibada to 3 women over 100 years ago.
This is how you cook for a cast of thousands.
The only way to dispose of rubbish is to burn it.
Ana, our interpreter invited us to place flowers on her fathers’ grave. He died in a motorcycle accident only 3 months ago.

To be invited to such a ceremony and to learn about her dad was an honour. He helped the Falantil freedom fighters during the war by letting them meet at the back of his restaurant, which served Indonesian military customers out front. It was a risky operation and it caused him to flee his country, leaving behind his 9 children. He became a refugee in Australia (evenutally), as did Ana. It was a priviledge to meet her and her family who had us stay, fed us lunch, dinner & breakfast and refused our money. It was only later I learned that her 17 year old Nephew had been in hospital critically ill during that time and he died the next day.

To learn more about Tamara’s mission, you can check out:

pittwaterfriendsofsoibada.org/

And on Facebook:

www.facebook.com/pages/Pittwater-Friends-Of-Soibada/162612300466694

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