Geoff Helisma, Clarence Valley Independent
For Derry Moroney, photography started as “just a little hobby”, but now that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and other media outlets from around the world have contacted him, that ‘little hobby’ is growing into something much more.
“My partner got me a camera a few weeks after we came here three years ago,” says Derry, “… it went from there.
“I started going out every day; I went to every sunrise and every sunset and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
About a year later Derry’s photography took off … literally.
“I got a drone and, since then, it’s opened up a whole new world – seeing the world from a birds-eye view has been amazing.”
One afternoon Derry’s curiosity revealed something completely unexpected, what he calls Lake Cakora’s ‘Tree of Life’.
“I was down at the [Brooms Head] bowling club after work one afternoon,” he says. “I wanted to have a look at the lake and see how far it went.
“I was unaware of what was up there, so I thought, ‘I’ll go for a little fly.’
“I flew over the lake and it had some really nice natural curves and bends to it. Then I went up a bit higher to see what it actually looked like and that’s when I first saw the ‘Tree of Life’ shape in the lake itself.
“I was pretty stunned. I didn’t know what to think at first. When I first saw it, I looked at it and I was, like, ‘what is that?’
“So I had to get closer, then go back up higher; then I realised it was actually tea tree oil in the water, not pollution. I was amazed. I spent about two or three hours trying to get all different angles and photos.”
Derry says he’s received “about 200 messages from people all over the world … BBC Earth, a bunch of people from South Africa, the UK, Berlin, Germany, they [the pictures] have been all around the world, people from Switzerland have been asking me about it”.
All of this attention has sprouted the beginnings of a new commercial enterprise and the motivation to “upgrade to a more professional operation”.
“I’ve started creating a website and people are now asking for prints,” he says.
Like many people who settle in the Lower Clarence, Derry’s first visit turned into permanent residency.
“My partner’s family used to live here and so we holidayed here. I fell in love with the place and haven’t left.”
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 3 February 2021.