Turpins Falls, Langley, Victoria

As you can see, a few things haven’t changed. Firstly, the blog hasn’t been updated into its new theme and secondly, I’m still wandering around with the camera, taking photos, rather than doing any dedicated walking.

There is a bonus about the blog not being rejigged just yet. With my subscriber plugin snafu, then no one receives these posts, so they’re flying under the radar. Without any readers, the pressure’s off. I can come up with any old crap I can think of, without the trauma of wondering whether someone is enjoying what’s written. Oh yeah, writing is always an exercise in self-loathing.

Anyway, down south, winter has well and truly tighten its grip. Rain, cold and a bit of semi-urban snow has been de rigueur the past week. You know what though? I reckon it’s been fantastic. Sure, you might say, ‘I bet he says that whilst sitting at home next to the heater’. Good point, but technically this is incorrect. Right now I’ve got the doors open, enjoying a bracing breeze through the house. I maintain this joint with an arctic flavour. So much so, that when a tradesman (the eternal home renovation saga continues) dropped by the other day he went a little nuts. “Huh? It’s freezing in here! It’s warmer outside and it’s not warm outside.” All I could do was look at him in my t-shirt and say, “And, loving it”.

A bonus of the current chill is photography. Inclement weather definitely adds something to an image, so I’ve been pottering around with a car loaded with camera gear, seeking out spots. Mind you, some of these places have done my head in a little, as I’ve attended, taken pictures, gone home, checked them, realised the pictures are crap and then re-attended. Oh, how many commas are acceptable in the one sentence? I think I broke a world record a minute ago.

Now the location of this post. Turpins Falls on the Campaspe River is technically in Langley, but it’s probably easier to say Kyneton, as it’s only 12 km away. As you know, accuracy is important in this blog (cough cough), so I try and keep things correct.

The thing is though, only a week ago I’d never heard of Turpins Falls. I saw it on a Facebook photography group and upon sighting the spectacular images of tumbling water, I instinctively threw the bowl of Doritos that was sitting on my stomach in the air. It looked great and I wondered why, after all these years I’d missed a visit.

Some research was promptly undertaken, which consisted of sitting on my arse Googling. Traditionally, I find there’s rarely anything online about places I attend, but this one had a fair bit. Including people who had being injured there, doing the ol’, ‘jump off the waterfall and land on a rock’ trick. That’s a traditional favourite.

Oh, but there’s one thing I couldn’t find during my online trawling. Why is it called Turpins? At first glance I thought it said ‘Turnips Falls’ and believed all my Christmases had come at once. Is it really named after Dick Turpin? The ye olde crook who famously ‘took from the rich and kept for himself’?

It got me wondering about famous Dicks in history that were a bit more notable than being a thief. Yeah yeah, I know, John Holmes just came to your mind, but I’m being serious here. So what have we got? Mm… Dick Nixon. He was a crook. The Princes in the Tower bloke, you know, Dick the Third. Besides a wonky back, he was definitely shifty. There’s Dick Kuklinski, the Iceman killer. How about Dick Speck? Another murderer. About the only handy Dick I could find was Dick Attenborough. I was left stumped, but at least I found out about a bloke who’s surely taking the piss with his name. Dick Cock. You better believe it.

Oh yeah, back to the waterfall. Here we go then, a rambling tale of days spent on the turps. I loaded up the camera gear and drove out to Langley on what had to have been the coldest day in Melbourne for the year. I’d read the falls were hard to find, due to crap signage, but I didn’t have any problems. All I did was enter ‘Turpins Falls’ into Google maps, whilst I was sitting in the driveway and it took me to the spot.

Oh, but what a spot. It may have been cold in the urban expanse of Melbourne, but it was a real nut cracker at the top of the falls. My knees are creaky at the best of times, but hopping out of the car at 2 °C, left me feeling like the Tin-Man, wanting some oil squirted into my joints.

It wasn’t hard to find the path to the falls, as although I couldn’t see them from the car park, I could hear them. It sounded like they were really jumping, so I began lugging the camera and tripod towards the source of the roar.

Firstly though, I had to pass an ominous warning sign. All very dramatic.


Fasten your seatbelt

The ‘watch out, you may die any second’ sign was soon forgotten, as I made my way down to a viewing area. From the elevated position, I must admit, they’re pretty impressive at first sight. My prior Googling had shown photos where there’s barely a drop of water falling, but with the heavy rain lately, it was another story.


Turpins Falls

In a natural amphitheatre and with water continually thundering, I concluded they’re the best falls I’ve seen. This week anyway. With tripod over the shoulder, I began wandering down the narrow path, whilst diligently watching my step. It was wet and muddy, but just to add something else to the ‘don’t fall’ aspect is the fencing next to the track. It’s a bit dodgy. As in, it’s knackered.


Maybe some fat bastard was leaning against the fence, trying to get a better view and it collapsed, sending him tumbling down the hill? Glad it was him and not this Fat Fiasco.

I finally reached the bottom and I must admit, it all became a bit of a struggle. A bone chilling wind would occasionally gust through the falls, bringing rain, plus the spray from the tumbling water, coated me and worst of all, the camera in a fine mist.

Through it all though, I took a few photos of the pool at the bottom, trying to capture its swirl. Even with the lens set at 16 mm I could barely fit in its curving flow.


I didn’t want a traditional head on waterfall photo, so I wandered down the river bank a little, hoping to get some angle. It was tricky though, as the water was moving at a fair clip. This is good for the standard long exposure photo…


…complete with swirls of foaming water, as its path was interrupted by protruding rocks.


After taking a few photos downstream, I looked back towards the falls. Finding a precarious spot, perched on wet rocks, I was taking my time, as this wasn’t the place to take a tumble. I levelled the camera, found a good focus point, set the cable release timer and then suddenly… Hang on, what the hell’s going on here?!


I hadn’t even seen him arrive, but he’d announced his appearance by wandering out into the churning water, decked out in waders like a complete bad arse and was now about to take the perfect photo. He stank of professional and I was left in his wake, looking like some sort of half-baked, amateur chump.


I was mortified. He spent some time in the water, wandering around and then left me to pick up the pieces and straight away, what I was left with had a major problem. The photo I wanted wasn’t ideal, as I just couldn’t get around the tree, which was blocking part of the waterfall. Even plonking the tripod in the wet stuff wasn’t helping, as the only way I could avoid the huge trunk was to hop into the river. Grr…


So there you have it. Feeling a bit peeved, I came up with a plan. Abandon for the day and return with heavy duty gumboots in order to do a little wading. When would that next visit be? The next day of course.

Heading back up the path, the heavy showers continued, but at least their passing black clouds made for a moody photo.


Oh, it’s never always about large, wide-angle landscapes. There were some water drops on a wire fence…


…that were worthy of some attention…


…before heading home to reload.

The forecast for the next day was worse than my first visit. Snow down to 300 metres? What is this insanity? My problem wasn’t the odd snow flake, but the passing showers. It made life a little complicated, so besides gumboots, an umbrella would be added as an essential to the photography kit.

I also had a night to do some more research. Heading onto my favourite place for old photos, the State Library of Victoria, I found the next picture. It’s labelled as marked and taken in 1910.


Turpins Falls, Kyneton. 1910. State Library of Victoria

Regarding this image, a couple of things came to mind. Firstly, why’s there an apostrophe after Turpin? Secondly, I know exactly where the photographer stood to take the photo. Again, like a thrill seeker, whoever it was, were standing in the waters of the mighty Campaspe. Mm… I put the photo in my memory bank and one of my second visit aims was to take a picture with the same alignment as this 1910 version.

So here we go again. The following day I was soon zipping up the Calder Highway and marvelling at snow, not just on top, but sitting on the side of Mt Macedon. Huh? Snow that low and it’s still there? It was worthy of a closer look, but I seem to remember the road is closed up to Macedon whenever it snows? I think. I had more important things to do though and before I knew it, I was under the influence of turps once more.

Again it was icy cold, but there was a slight difference on the second trip. Between showers, blue sky would reveal itself, so the better light added something different to the previous pictures.


Then I was off to do some precarious wading. Wandering into the water, I took a few photos before realising there was a problem, which I hadn’t envisaged. Time again, I’d take a photo over some seconds, but they were all blurred. Yes, the solid current was jarring the tripod.

I began to curse not bringing a functioning gas oven with me, so I could put my head in it. I eventually worked out a compromise, by utilising extreme profanity and a careful balancing of the tripod on some wet rocks. Along with me. Like this.


Oh, you want more? How about a video? I rarely include them, as they never seem to sit on the page properly, but on this occasion I’ll give it a go, as it shows the water’s really moving. Those dreamy long shutter images make the river look quite languid, but in reality it’s a bit more physical. Here we are then. Balanced on a wet rock, holding the iPhone with a death grip and lastly, wondering what the hell I was doing there. As a warning, turn down the audio a bit, otherwise your ears will be smoked by the sound of rushing water.

See what I mean? Disconcertingly the rock I was standing on kept rocking, but I managed to keep myself and more importantly the camera steady enough for a few photos. Best of all. Look at the results. No more tree being in the way!


Now what about a ‘then and now’ comparison with the 1910 picture? I have to admit, it was impossible in my outfit for the day, so hereby I’ll make a full confession. I left and returned again. Yes, you better believe it. I came back for a third time (count em’) and this time I was in waders. I won’t go into the full details, but when OCD kicks in and something needs to be done, I’ll pull out all the stops.

Here then, I wandered right out into the river for some nice shots down stream…


…with the sun shining.


Then I waded out into the correct alignment and took this…


…which if we revisit the photo earlier, I think it’s more or less spot on. Other than a few trees, not a lot has changed in a hundred years. Turpins Falls, Langley is certainly an impressive waterfall after a heavy winter rainfall and would make a good swimming spot in the warmer months.


So there you have it. Three trips make up this post, which is clearly insane, but that’s what being on the turps can do to you. I think I’m done here, but I must mention something I forgot about.

The umbrella worked wonders as well and now I have the complete photography kit, including approximately 150 kg of neoprene chest waders. In day to day wet conditions though, the gumboots are a winner. I was so impressed I’ve decided to expand their outings beyond the realm of a photography outfit. They’re perfect for shopping…

wearing-gum-bootsEvery day indeed

…and wearing around the house. Whilst wearing nothing else. Naturally.