DIRROWONG MEMORIESCirca 1957, Richard Gates sits by ‘Old Ghostie’ south of Evans Head.
DIRROWONG MEMORIESCirca 1957, Richard Gates sits by ‘Old Ghostie’ south of Evans Head. Gordon Gates

Looking after the local reserve he explored as a child

WHEN a 10-year-old Richard Gates sat next to the "Old Ghostie", lake he had no idea he had only two years left with his father.

Dr Gates is an Evans Head resident who explored the Dirrawong Reserve in childhood, and as an adult takes stunning landscape pictures and macro photographs of native flora and fauna.

It is something he had in common with the father he lost at 12.

Gordon Gates was a chemist in Evans Head until his death in 1959. He took up photography after he lost an eye in the war.

"The doctors told him, it would help improve his vision," Dr Gates said.

Gordon was a Second World War RAAF pilot and was one of the first people in Australia to go undergo plastic surgery to have his face rebuilt.

With his father and friends, young Richard walked the track across the headland and the area that is now Bundjalung National Park to go duck hunting.

" I had my first encounter with a death adder along this track," Richard said.

The area is now not available to the public because it is part of the RAAF's Air Weapons Range.

Dr Gates is a regular bushwalker, taking his camera and recording the weather, plants and waves in photographs as he explores a land well known to him.

He knows all the plants, the rare Christmas Bells, the sculptural banksia, all five species, blueberry ash and many others and is keen to preserve the plant life.

Bitou Bush is a major threat but Dr Gates said the non-native species was under control by hand pulling the weed and minimising the use of herbicides.

"The Pandanus Palms on Chinamans Beach tell the story - they are so healthy," he said.



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