Tag Archives: Beach

Tourism at Pantai Ngandong

The little seaside village at Pantai Ngandong sits snugly in the limestone karst landscape of Central Java. It’s actually located within the ‘Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta’ (the Special Region of Yogyakarta), but it’s over two hours’ drive southeast from the city itself.

Like the many other beach settlements along this stretch of coast, the economy is now largely based on domestic tourism, drawing visitors from Central Java and further afield to enjoy the marvellous scenery, swimming and fishing, seafood, white sandy beaches and the caves of the hinterland.

The coastal scenery, with the limestone cliffs being (relatively) rapidly eroded, is really quite spectacular. And the water is clean and blue.

Even for an Australian visitor, no stranger to scenic shorelines, the golden sand beach is lovely and inviting.

With some very sculptural formations in the limestone.

And, offshore on the reef, there is a rather nice right-hand surf break – but with no-one out there to ride it.

At low tide, the rock platform adjoining Pulau Watulawang encourages beach-combing. The little rock pools are home to an array of pretty, weird and/or dangerous-looking sea-life.

Visiting tourists can recline on mats under brightly coloured beach umbrellas – once they’ve paid to rent the space.

The beachside road is lined with warungs, snorkelling hire outlets and gift shops. Not surprisingly, there’s lots of seafood to be had – such as these lightly battered and deep fried prawns (udang goreng). They were delicious – as were the crispy fried seaweed (rumput laut) snacks in the bag at the right of the picture below.

For more snacks, there are kaki lima vendors up and down the road. Fruit salad in front (with pineapple, papaya, melon, dragonfruit and banana), and cilok (balls of tapioca and egg, served with peanut sauce) behind.

There is of course no shortage of suitable locations for selfies and group photos! Can you spot the bule?

And no shortage of places to leave your name as a record of your visit – including some novel locations.

Plenty of picturesque (if somewhat dangerous) spots for rock or beach fishing.

An abundance of swimming holes to cool off in. Very modest (some might say impractical) swimming attire – even worn when snorkelling.

Turtle Nesting, Mallacoota

I find it useful to allow pictures to ‘cure’ for a time before deciding which ones I like. Sometimes the images that appeal most at first viewing don’t survive the passage of time and re-viewing. Too obvious, too garish, too shallow, too derivative – there’s a host of reasons why an image that at first seemed to be a ‘keeper’ later seems uninteresting. Or even embarrassing.

But others emerge from the archive after being neglected at first glance. Or else I find myself going back to look at them or work on them some more to try to reveal some hidden potential. Perhaps it is just that my taste changes over time.

Anyway, here’s a picture from March 2013 that I’d put in that second category – of emergent keepers. The scene was captured at Mallacoota on the ocean beach, on a hazy afternoon with pale sunlight filtering through sea spray.

Turtle Nesting, Mallacoota (2013)

Turtle Nesting, Mallacoota (2013)

I liked the man emerging from the surf in his white swimming trunks. As I worked on the image in Photoshop, I came to imagine him as some kind of amphibian creature arriving from the deep ocean, rather than just an ordinary bloke who’d gone out for a quick dip in the surf on a warm day.

I cloned him several times to create a ‘troop’ (a ‘flotilla’, a ‘school’?) of identical figures all reaching land simultaneously. The waves and the walking men give a nice strong feeling of movement from the right to the left side of the picture. It was late at night when I worked on the image, and I drifted into thinking of those high school science pictures showing the evolution of life as sea creatures started colonising the land. Then of some kind of aquatic zombie invasion. But mostly, I imagined sea turtles during their seasonal arrival to lay eggs in beach dune nests.

On the day when I first arrived at the headland and looked along the beach towards the inlet, the light and framing of the scene had me thinking of the quality of light in the beach photography of Massimo Vitali, whose work I had recently been looking at.

Massimo Vitali - Vecchiano Venditori, Italy

Massimo Vitali – Vecchiano Venditori, Italy

And later, when I came to work on the RAW file to produce the final image, I found more inspiration in the luscious, painterly beach images of Belgian photographer Harry Gruyaert. He has employed much darker tonality than the light-saturated, almost washed out images of Vitali (and my own picture). However I really like the stagey compositions, elevated angle of view and big skies, all accentuating the perspective of the beach stretching away to the horizon. (Click to see more of his work on the Magnum photo site)

Harry Gruyaert. Picardie region. Bay of the Somme river. Beach of the town of Fort Mahon. 1991.

Harry Gruyaert. Picardie region. Bay of the Somme river. Beach of the town of Fort Mahon. 1991.

The Turtle Nesting, Mallacoota picture was made as part of my project on South East Coastal Adaptation – you can see other pictures from the series at this link.