Information on my part in the production of Peter Jarver's book SNOWGUMS TO SAND.

There is a web site for the region "Snowgums to Sand". At one time it was suggested that the writers would contribute some biographical information and anecdotes to be included on the site. Perhaps I was the only one to front with the goods, the following submission never made it.

Somewhere in the credits for the book Snowgums to Sand is my name, Michael Smith. I contributed 5300 words of the text: the sections on whales, dolphins, Stockton Beach, Broughton Island and Port Stephens.

I have lived in Nelson Bay for the past 13 years. In that time I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the area, and for many years I took groups of people on wildflower walks, bush tucker tours and camping trips to the best parts of it.

I have produced a number of books, guides and maps of the area to give visitors a better understanding of what the area has to offer.

I also drew the four maps in the book. One feature of these maps is the three dimensional look of the mountains and hills. If you have trouble seeing the effect, stand at least a metre away and the bumps will jump up. They were created in a computer program INFINI D. If you are not interested in technical stuff skip the next paragraph.

To create the three dimensional effect I first traced the contours of the snowgums to sand area from a topographic map ( I paid a three figure sum to Auslig for the copyright permission). This was a pencil drawing on plastic drafting film, very old fashioned. This drawing was scanned and the contours traced in a computer program called Freehand 5.5. My description from here on will have to be a little vague, as I have not seen anyone else using the technique, which took me four months of frustration to develop. This drawing was saved as a PICT 2 file and imported into Photoshop for further unspecified enhancements. Then I opened up INFINI D and opened this PICT file as a terrain object. The file was then rendered. This process took my Macintosh 5200 computer about 3 hours of computing time to perform. What I end up with is a TIFF file of about 15 MB. I import this file into Photoshop for trimming and a few more enhancements. Here I spray on the yellow sand with the spray gun. The areas of State Forest and National Park are added as a transparent overlay (about 30%), so that the mountains still show through. The rest of the map is drawn in Freehand with the three dimensional file "pasted inside" the coastal outline. It sounds like a lot of trouble, but consider the amount of information it can convey. In places on the map you can have text lying on top of yellow shading, indicating a State Forest, and appearing through the colouring is the appropriate shadowing indicating the shape of the hills.

Check out the north point on the map. This is an early version of a logo I worked on . The logo evolved into a more "artistic' version that you can see elsewhere in the book, but I nostalgically hung on to it and hid it in the north point.

I spent two days with Peter Jarver on Broughton Island. It was his job to take photographs and mine to carry the tripod and show him the sights. Whilst only a couple of photographs of Broughton made it to the book, several rolls of film were shot. What captivated us most were the colours we found on the rock walls of a cave. This cave needed a name for the book. The only person we thought had the "authority" for this job was George, who has lived on the island for the past 17 years. The three of us sat together in a hut and George pronounced "Rainbow Cave", and so it was.

Scented sun orchid

In August 1997 Peter Jarver flew down from his home in North Queensland to photograph the wildflowers around Nelson Bay. He had been ringing me weekly to check on the progress of the bloomings. It was the first flush of spring and he was here to be photographic witness. The day before I had found a hillside with some superb native orchids growing on it and it was here we chose to go first. As we walked to the spot, with me carrying the tripod as usual, I was telling him of the scented sun orchid we were about to photograph. Alas, there on the side of the track was the very orchid, the centrepiece of a bunch of wildflowers that someone had picked and discarded. It was a terrible blow, but I remembered there were two of these in flower, so we would go to the other one. No sooner thought of, we passed another posy. Among some wattle and black eyed Susan was the other scented sun orchid. On the limp side of fresh, it too lay discarded, although still beautiful.

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