For the last couple of days I have been travelling down the Great Ocean Road with a colleague of mine that I have finally met after knowing him for 10 years. Barny is over form the UK for a couple of weeks on holiday, so I thought I'd show him some of the beautiful sights of Southern Victoria. We made plenty of stops along the Ocean to see the beautiful sights, but the first thing that provided anything sound wise was Cheese World, just outside of Warnambool. The factory itself was not open, but I could stand outside and get some material from the machinery which was good. More importantly they have a museum with lots of really old engines, and they all work. I talked to the people there and they gave me contact details for the Warnambool historical society, so i will be organising a special trip back here to record all the old machines. Oh and the cheese here is fantastic, I bought two blocks, they have cheese tasting and it was well worth it.
Later in the day we could see smoke up ahead. I could tell it wasn't a bush fire as it seamed to be in several small columns so I guessed it was burning off. As we got closer we could see the actual flames from the road, so we detoured down a small dirt road and found some local council officials doing some clearing and burning off. This was a great chance to catch some big fire sounds under safe conditions so I approached the people in charge and asked if it was ok for me to record. They were fine with it as long as I was careful. I planned on being very careful with a fire this size.
The flames might not look that big but this fire was giving off so much heat that I could get closer than about 5 meters. Even then I could only stand there for about 30 seconds at a time before I had to move back. I have a very healthy respect for fire and fire fighters after witnessing first hand just how bloody hot they can get. There was an earth mover that they were using to pull down brush and stack it into new piles to burn, it was quit loud, but if I put the fire between myself and the tractor, I could not hear the tractor at all. This was not because the fire was so loud, it just seemed like the flames were actually blocking the sound of the vehicle. I am not sure if the extreme heat was effecting the sound waves, but it was very unusual. I will need to look it up. Again I was very patient and made sure I collected a lot of material, but after a while I just felt I was going to burst into flames myself if I stayed there too long. This was great material to record, and I would like to get more fire and flame sounds, but it is going to have to be something I plan and approach very carefully.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences