Lorne Roadtrip / by Simon Ng

“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”

      Alan Watts

Lorne Pier

A few days ago, I peeled potatoes...well, actually, I took photographs. So why the quote? Because for me, making photos is a bit like peeling potatoes for a Zen master. I can do it for hours, living in the immediate moment, just being.  

The photos here are all from Lorne, a beautiful little town along Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road. I’ve been to Lorne many times, and I love it still, despite the heavy tourism and the development. On this trip, I decided to focus on taking photos and so spent some time researching the internet looking for inspiration. I found it in a photograph taken by Josh Beams from Teddy’s Lookout.

Josh’s photo is rather brilliant, not least because he managed to catch the Aurora Australis, but also because it was a artful composition and also technically proficient. So I went along to make my own version of this photograph. I arrived at 7:30 in the evening in preparation for the setting sun, and found myself still there are 10:30, just standing and watching the cars pass along the road, revelling in the sky’s gloaming and the stars appearing one by one, chilled by the ocean breeze push through my jacket. 

Peeling potatoes. 

In the time that I was there, more than a dozen visitors stopped by, most for no more than a minute or two, just enough to snap some shots before rushing off to wherever they were rushing off to. I met a nice German couple, who asked where they could see koalas in the wild (Cape Otway) and a Sunbury resident, who asked whether I was a professional photographer (Not even close).  And I felt more permanent and more grounded for all the foot traffic.

It turns out that peeling potatoes might even beget creativity, because I framed my shots quite differently from Josh, attracted more to the serpentine road and the river that mimics it than to the sky. Eventually I turned my attention to the firmament though, making my way down into the valley that I had previously captured from above to see if I could get a glimpse of the spiral arm of the Milky Way.

The time slipped by. And now, all I have are peeled potatoes and a deep sense of stillness. Hooray for photography.