AUSTRALIA | Mission beach | After Cyclone Yasi

Excerpt from the book…

Having first arrived on Australian shores in 1999, many return visits to Mission Beach ensued. In this time Jayne has lived and worked in Mission Beach and continues to have a profound love affair with the region. An area of outstanding natural beauty, not even the devastation of a category five cyclone can moderate the magnetism of this beautiful part of the world.

Jayne Dennis is a multi-award winning photographer, designer and art director. The daughter of a farming family, originally from rural North Yorkshire, she divides her time between the UK and the Asia Pacific expanse.  An avid adventurer, she continues to explore the beautiful world that we share, travelling throughout Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand. Determined to explore and photographically document as much of the planet as possible, given the little time we have here, the adventures of Captain Jayneway continue on…

On February 3rd 2011, in the early hours of the morning, Cyclone Yasi reached northern Queensland, Australia. The eye of the storm passed directly over Mission Beach, with wind gusts up to 290kph. What was left behind, was a trail of devastation.

I was sat in my office in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park when I, through the wonders of modern technology, first got wind of the storm brewing off the coast of Australia.  As I sat looking at the Cyclone forming on satellite weather maps on the Internet, I had a terrible gut feeling of what was about to transpire, and I was right. I could see the eye of the storm gaining intensity; I could see the eye of the storm heading directly for Mission Beach.

Over the hours that followed, amazingly, I was able to get first hand updates via Facebook, off friends who had chosen to sit out the storm in Mission. Through dedicated strategically placed web cams up and down the coast from Cairns to Mission Beach, I was able, in some part, to see the carnage unfold as the video was fed back down the line to the rest of the world. As power outages began, the feedback waned. I remember feeling very empty at this point, and I was extremely concerned for all my friends in Mission Beach, and everyone else involved. I don’t think anybody could have predicted what the likely outcome might be.

It will probably sound insane when I say that, in a way, I truly wished I had been there to experience such a force of nature. Even with the great imagination I’m blessed with, you could never fully imagine what it must have really been like to be in the eye of the storm. Terrifying, I’m sure, but what an experience, one you’re never likely to forget. I think it’s good to be reminded that we human’s are just a small speck on the landscape sometimes.

I was relieved the following day, when first accounts of the damage we’re relayed through the news channels in the UK and on the Internet, reports stating that there was no loss of life.  Everything else can be mended, eventually.

As a photographer, I watched with interest as the images from what was dubbed ‘Ground Zero’ were published. I still don’t think the photographs I saw really captured the essence of what had just happened. In a way, it’s a shame I wasn’t there because I’m sure I would have seen it from a different perspective being a sometime resident. I feel an enormous connection with the area, both spiritually and physically; I have from the first day I ever arrived in Mission Beach. I’d like to continue documenting the recovery of the area.  My aim eventually is to persuade residents to allow me to photograph their portrait in one form or another. I think it’s so important to document events in time, the people and the location. The people of the world deserve to be immortalised in pictures forever, whether they believe so at the time the photograph is taken or not.

On my second day at the beach, I decided it would be a fitting mark of respect to document the area as I recalled in on my return. I thought it essential to remember this moment in time clearly, for the sake of history.  I wanted to detail images from an area I’m passionate about, when things weren’t quite so perfect. I also sought to show that there could still be beauty in destruction and chaos. The following photographs aim to show the beginning of another journey for Mission Beach.

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