Morpeth Camera Club
On Tuesday, April 18 our guest speakers were Alan and Pat Porrett, who gave a talk entitled The Flowering Desert.
Alan and Pat, from Whitley Bay Photographic Society, presented photographs taken whilst exploring Eastern South Africa, mainly looking at Namaqualand during the winter flowering season when the semi-desert becomes the most colourful flower area in the world.
The couple spent six weeks in the area to ensure their visit coincided with the flower season, which turned out to be the best show in living memory.
Their trip started in the Cape Town region, where they travelled on the main Route 7, visiting the Clan William citrus farm, then to Kamieskoon, a small town in the foothills of the Kemiesberge.
A trip to Bantry Bay, just west of Cape Town, followed, where they visited Table Mountain, 1,000m high and estimated to be 600 million years old. On the summit the terrain resembles limestone pavements, but the 30C winters are awash with flowers.
On the Cape Peninsula the audience enjoyed images of the penguin colony with their scruffy, fluffy young.
Next was a trip to Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, at the eastern foot of Table Mountain, where we saw beautiful images of yellow, orange and red flowers, including the proteas, with feathered petals and soft downy buds.
On to Stellenbosch, a university town dwarfed by mountains with Dutch influenced architecture, from where the Porretts visited the wineries at Franschhoek. Some disused buildings had been converted into a motor museum and there were images of classic American cars and Le Mans racing cars.
Travelling 100 miles north to Stephanie’s Fruit Farm, a beautiful location surrounded by vineyards and mountains adjacent to the Groot Constantia Wine Estate, they sampled oranges straight from the groves and witnessed the building of weaver bird nests.
The audience was shown images of unbelievably beautiful plains of colourful crocosmia, mesembryanthemums, Namaqualand daisies, the iris-like dietes grandiflora, pincushion proteas, akenalia, felicias and koerkboom trees.
After rare torrential rain, the region comes to life, transforming the brown, arid landscape to a vibrantly coloured carpet of flowers among red lichen covered boulders.
Alan and Pat also encountered spoonbills, springbok, caterpillars, crickets, bat eared foxes, meerkats, mongoose, tortoises, oryx and bright blue lizards.
Alan explained difficult travel conditions of boulder-strewn tracks with sun baked ruts, and followed with images of abandoned Boar War British camps, Cornish mining pumping machinery and locomotives used for copper ore transportation at Nababeep, where flowers colonise the spoil heaps.
The audience enjoyed a brilliant selection of photographs of South Africa’s flora, with interesting dialogue.
Chairman Glyn Trueman thanked Alan and Pat for a very enjoyable insight into the fascinating vegetation of Eastern South Africa.