27 July 2017
WINTER WEEKENDS FESTIVAL PORT FAIRYby MATT CHARLESWORTH
The Winter Weekends festival embraces the cooler months of June and July to exhibit the uplifting people of Port Fairy and its remarkable structures and landscapes. The program spans over four weekends, the third of which has a major focus on photography. Instructions: Grab your coat, get your camera, open your eyes and head to Port Fairy… we complied.
“Port” is effortlessly photogenic; an alluring fishing village with deep architectural heritage that occupies the final stretch of the shipwreck coast. If the scenery and surrounds weren’t already enough to motivate shutter clicking, maybe the $1000 worth of prizes would be!
The photography contest is open and free to all. Equipment was also out of question; whether it be a phone camera or huge telephoto lens the aim was to capture the real Port Fairy.
Some friendly locals revealed insider information and insisted we explore Griffiths Island and “The Passage”. Griffiths Island proved to be a real gem; just a short sandy walk and we found ourselves at the Port Fairy Lighthouse. An age-old structure projected up from the most easterly tip of the island with a striking red roof and front door. Combine this with waves spraying up on the rocks and we had ourselves quite an image. Next stop, “The Passage”. Courageous surfers dropped in on 7-8 foot waves, lapping up a huge swell. We managed to snap a few pics and even caught a seal frolicking in the shallows! The final image to complete our competition entries featured 19th century buildings in town.
Port Fairy is well known for its buzzing art scene thanks to creative’s like Oat Valyaboon.
Oat is a local photographer with over 25,000 followers on Instagram and he made a special appearance at the Winter Weekends fest. Oat facilitated a sunrise photography workshop, an Instameet and a drone demo. I took every opportunity to learn from a professional photographer and attended all three. A small group of early-rises took to the East Beach on Saturday morning. Oat thoroughly explained long-exposures, graduated filters, HDR, composition and f-stops; much of which was quite unclear before taking the workshop. The Instameet brought together a number of like-minded individuals from where we made our way towards the drone demonst ration. Oat took to the skies showing off his fleet of drones to the crowd. The birds-eye-view opened up a whole new world of photography. After witnessing the agility and speed of this new technology I was convinced a drone would be my next purchase, right up until Oat revealed the price.
Much of the weekend was lived out from behind a lens, but not all. We ditched the camera for the Wisharts Gallery on Friday night. The brothers behind the bar prepared pizza to the beat of a funky jazz guitarist. The night served as an opening to the weekend, kicking on in the beer garden until late. On our walk back, we stumbled upon one of the many quirky light installations scattered about town. I put my face inside a wooden cut out and fair enough a huge live projection of my face was seen on a tree across the road! The Reardon Theatre had a few projections of its own. A mini Aussie film festival ran over the weekend. The vintage leather seats filled out to catch “Pawno” on Saturday.
The festival focus is to get people out and about in Winter. It would take much more than a chilly day and a little rain to dampen the spirits of “Port” locals. The aura certainly rubbed off on us; we discovered Port Fairy on foot using the Ashmont Motor Inn as our base. Comfortable accommodation to catch up on sleep after our big days. The passion proved to be very contagious; Port Fairy may be a small town but it has a huge beating heart.