Burleigh Heads, QLD
Welcome to the Gold Coast!
Took the chance to have a quick weekend trip away to visit my Mum (& get some new location shots of the glorious Gold Coast). After some research, I decided to hit Burleigh Heads for dawn to capture a pretty pink sunrise and since it was a new area, I made sure I got my Mum up at 4:30am to come with me (plus I had no idea where I was headed & I had no shooting buddy). We arrived on location at around 5:10am and saw a few fishermen heading down to the headland and thought I will follow them as they would be heading in the right direction and it’s always good to know other people are around…
I walked down the pathway (in pitch black) and found some steps leading onto some volcanic style boulders onto the tiniest beach I have seen. The location looked good and the light was just starting to come up. I set up my tripod and got my filters in place to find some seedy derelict making his way down the boulders towards us. I just assumed he was going to be a typical annoying person coming up wanting to talk about nothing of any importance while I was trying to get my shots in before sunrise. He came down, walked right in front of my camera (& yes I failed to get a shot off of him) and into my shot of the nice sand on the beach. I ignored him and told Mum not to engage a conversation as he looked a little strange. He left after about 2 minutes and we felt relieved and slightly concerned. Didn’t feel any immediate danger, so I kept on shooting as the light was getting really nice at this point. About 5:29am, he arrived back on the scene (pretty scared at this point – me not him, yet), there was one entry onto the beach/rock area, one exit – the same one. He was teetering on the top of the rock area and then made a fast beeline for me. Didn’t know whether to whack him with my camera/tripod or take the subtle approach and stay calm hoping he would just go away. I took the latter, and he came up beside me, pretty much shoulder to shoulder and I still didn’t engage him in verbal dialog. He then indecently assaulted me (kinda like a bear hug from behind – hands everywhere…) and I gave him a swift elbow jab which cleared him of me and turned around quickly and shoved him pretty hard with open palms to get more distance between so I could get a kick in if needed at his head. I then started yelling as loud as I could at him and abusing him to 1. degrade him and 2. scare him off as it was getting the fishermen’s attention who were on the rocks on the headland (but of course they never bothered to come over). He scurried away over the rocks as fast as his pathetic legs could carry him, I kept berating him until he was out of my line of sight and chose to stay on location as it was still too dark to “follow him” up the ramp towards the car and too scary. Plus I was still shooting my 6 min exposure shot.
I asked Mum to keep a visual on him and also the steps whilst I grabbed my iphone and googled Burleigh Heads Police Station. The number was disconnected and then I tried http://www.whitepages.com.au and found the Gold Coast Communication Centre for the police, since it was pre-8am, none of the stations were answering. I spoke to a Constable and he said to head up to the carpark and wait for a car which would be there as fast as possible. This was 5:35am. Since it was still dark, we waited on the beach til the light was bright enough to see more than 15 foot in front of us and I packed up my gear and headed up the ramp to the carpark. Alas, no patrol car, as expected, so we waited around as suggested for the car. 6:18am, I get a call from a blocked number so I answered it and they had just been informed 3 minutes ago of the incident and asked me to go down to the Palm Beach Police Station to get a touch-dna kit done and a statement made. I rang the cops to get on location to pick the guy up and deal with him then and there so nobody else was in harm’s way, but that never happened.
After 3 hrs at the station, they said they picked up a guy that fitted the description and had him at Burleigh Heads Police Station. I couldn’t pick him out of the line-up as he didn’t have his beanie on and when I saw him it was dawn so all I could remember was the gear he was wearing, and his hair which was poking out from his horrible beanie, and I thought he was a bit older. I just hope they can ID him from the DNA samples that I left with them – my nice North Face jacket and my gloves. I got to keep my jeans or I would have been driving home in my underwear and jumper or the paper overalls they offered me.
Overall, a shitty morning, but its taught me not to go shooting with another female companion and to definitely find a male shooting buddy to head out when the light is low as there are some messed up people out there and I was lucky to walk away and not be attacked with a weapon or anything more sinister. In hindsight, I will be tucking my long blonde hair into my beanie and not wear fitting jeans on shoots anymore. I got myself a nice pair of work pants from Kathmandu and will look less feminine for my future shoots. I am determined to get more shots whilst up here and he won’t ruin my passion for landscape photography or my independence, but he has made me more aware of what could happen and also answers my remaining question……where are all the female landscape photographers???