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A Week in Portugal

I had the pleasure of spending Easter in Portugal this year, hosted by my Portugese friend Claudia and her family in the Catholic pilgrimage town of Fátima, about an hour north of Lisbon. We spent Easter Sunday at her Grandparent’s, a modest farmhouse in the tiny village of Cercal.

Whilst the family prepared a feast for lunch with fresh produce from the garden, I spent the morning exploring with my Canon AE-1 and some rolls of Agfa Vista 400 in the spring sunshine, playing with lambs and chickens, exploring the old farm buildings and corn storage, and picking the sweetest oranges I’ve ever tasted from the bountiful trees.

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After lunch, the deck of cards came out and I learned to play the family favorite, which is fairly tricky when the suits and values are in Portugese and you’re not sure what everyone is yelling about. Later, her cousins and I drove around the neighbourhood looking for Claudia’s dog Putchie who had run away to his girlfriend’s house, took a walk down to her grandparent’s pine forest to check out the natural spring and well, and visited Castelo de Ourém high up in the hills overlooking the countryside.

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After three days in rural Portugal I headed south to Lisbon for a solo city break. Staying in a hostel in central Baixa, I was perfectly positioned to explore the city on foot, making my way up and around Alfama to the Castelo de Sao Jorge and all the viewpoints by day, and wandering through Barrio Alto by night, getting hooked on traditional Fado music and dining in back alley restaurants.

Other highlights were trips to Sintra and the Palácio da Pena, a tram ride to historic Belém to taste the original pastéis de nata, and picking up a good amount of Portugese and confidently speaking to locals. I’d love to go back and visit Porto next!

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Swan Hill

After 6 months living and working in Melbourne, I was faced with the decision of whether to extend my visa for a second year. To be eligible for the second-year visa in Australia I had to complete 88 days of farm work which is somewhat frustrating having got finally got on my feet only to up and leave again, but also provides an opportunity to see a part of the country I never would otherwise.

After a month of searching for a suitable place and going back and forth wondering if I was making the right choice, I was approved for a position in the rural town of Swan Hill in Victoria and packed up and left within 24 hours. 

I was required to live in a shared house right next door to the local Maccas with other international backpackers which was very far from the comfort of the house I'd left in Melbourne. "It's all part of the experience" became a regular phrase in my head, although rats and grimy wallpaper aren't exactly ideal.

In the same way a convict uses their time in prison to buff up, I wanted to use my time away to train myself on medium format film, with a Rolleiflex 3.5T and some Fuji Provia 100. I had dreamed of collecting a series of portraits of the locals here, but I think my lack of desire to be in this town resulted in turning my camera away from the people and toward the suburban backdrop surrounding me.

Every day for over 3 months I walked the same 20 minute route to work in sweltering 40C heat, and I spent my spare time wandering the single high street of shops, suburban streets, and along the Murray river, documenting the dry, deserted urban landscapes under the harsh summer sun.

My lack of connection to the town has made it feel like I was never really there at all, and I think the scarce signs of life in these photographs reflect that; a distant observer; a temporary ghost.

Swan Hill Photos: Rolleiflex & Provia 100F 120

Snapshot of Melbourne

I've been very quiet over the past 6 months, had my ear held to the Earth listening to my surroundings and the thoughts of others rather than sharing my own.

Writing unexpectedly became a vital means of expression when I was travelling New Zealand, but since landing on Australian shores I seem to have lost my voice. 

I've noticed I only scribble thoughts on low days, and thankfully they've been few and far between, but I'm finding it hard to verbally reflect on my time here thus far.

I can count on one hand the amount of times I've picked up my digital camera in the past 6 months. Film photography has won my heart over and I've been spending time becoming acquainted with the medium on various cameras and formats. 

So I'll leave the sporadic sentences, paragraphs and poems in my journal where they belong, and share with you what I have been focussed on between moving house 7 times, working endless hospo hours and getting familiar with the Aussie way of life.

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Melbourne Snapshot Photos: 35mm & iPhone 6s