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Charlie Snook + portrait by Doug Spowart

I first met Charlie Snook in 1977 when he and I were among the guest lecturer team for the Binna Burra Photo School in Lamington National Park near the Gold Coast. The weeklong event was an inspirational live-in experience for keen photographers. Day and night workshop sessions were augmented by bushwalk forays into the surrounding National Park. Darkrooms for black and white processing and even colour work were set up to provide a complete experience of ‘learn and do’ in just about everything photographic.

Other members of the lecture team included Rob Heyman, Rob Bannerman, Alec Fraser (recently departed for the big darkroom in the sky), Ansett photographer Gary Lewis and of course Tony Groom traveller and photographer the son of the founder Arthur Groom. Someone was always up to something—whether it was photography, experiencing nature or telling tall stories of travel or life or just plain joking around. Over time great photographers like Steve Parish presented workshops and added to the yearly event’s reputation.

Charlie and I struck up a friendship that connected us with the love of photography and the natural environment. Apart from the annual Photo School adventures that included the Coomera Crevice, the Shipstern decent and the Ballanjui Falls abseil, Charlie and I, assisted by his two son’s-in-law canoed the Mann and Clarence Rivers from Nymboida to Jackadgery. Later when my mother and I began of offer photo tours around Australia as part of our Imagery Gallery business activities Charlie became a regular traveller.

Charlie and me on the river   Photo courtesy of Lesley Wall (Charlies Granddaughter

Charlie and me on the river Photo courtesy of Lesley Wall (Charlies Granddaughter)

In 1987 photographer Maris Rusis and I made a 10”x8” photographer’s journey along the east coast of Australia. We spent some time with Charlie helping to fix plasterboard panels to the ceiling of a house he was building at Minnie Waters near Grafton. A plumber by trade Charlie had worked in a variety of amazing projects including The Blue Cow tunnel in the Snowy Mountains, massive holiday resorts in Yamba and as a volunteer for the Catholic Church missions in the islands of the Pacific building community infrastructure.

In July 2011 Vicky and I visited Charlie and I made a portrait of him in front of his photo gallery. He stood proudly before his cherished image by Frank Hurley of the ship the Endurance trapped in ice in Antarctica, images from his travels and of family and friends.

Today we revisited Charlie to return his image as a black and white print—he was chuffed!!

Cheers Charlie.


POST SCRIPT: Charlie passed away peacefully in Grafton last Saturday, August 10, 2013. He will be sadly missed but his enthusiasm for photography, wilderness and Minnie Waters lives on with those who remember him.

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