Photographer Ray Collins on 'Conversations' with Richard Fidler

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

Born in Sydney's western suburbs, surf photographer Ray Collins had never seen the ocean before his family moved to a fibro shack at Sandon Point. Housing commission neighbourhood. A leg up for a single mum and her down-at-heel kids. When young Raymon pulled back the curtains of his new bedroom, the Pacific twinkled in the morning light.

From a concrete jungle to the Jetty, he'd hit the jackpot.

That was just one of many sliding door moments in Ray's life. We all have them, yet Ray's have a cinematic quality: the underdog made good; the ordinary fella who took a chance on art; the introvert who stared down his demons.

On Tuesday, Ray shares his story with Richard Fidler on 'Conversations', ABC Radio National, 10am.

Ray is also working on a new series of photos titled 'Fleeting Perspectives', to be released with music by Russell Webster - not sure how the final product will work but it's sure to be good.

Comments

Pete Jovic's picture
Pete Jovic's picture
Pete Jovic commented Monday, 6 Apr 2020 at 6:57pm

Sick. I'll be tuning in for sure.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Monday, 6 Apr 2020 at 6:59pm

I reckon being interviewed by RF would have to be the pinnacle of anyone's career. I'm a huge fan of Conversations.

marcus's picture
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marcus commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 9:07am

i love listening to RF while at work, great stories

i remember the internet when it was just for intelligent people but.

Mindora's picture
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Mindora commented Monday, 6 Apr 2020 at 7:21pm

Get fucked that first photo is good.

matt59's picture
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matt59 commented Friday, 10 Apr 2020 at 9:35am

Crazy shot

Remigogo's picture
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Remigogo commented Monday, 6 Apr 2020 at 8:01pm

Favourite listening. I lost my socks. I can't wait....

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Monday, 6 Apr 2020 at 8:06pm

Agree Ben, conversations is one of my favourite poddys. Can’t wait for this one

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Monday, 6 Apr 2020 at 8:15pm

54 min cut going to air tomorrow, full length podcast available next week.

marcus's picture
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marcus commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 9:07am

one facebook thumbs up

i remember the internet when it was just for intelligent people but.

Bob Sacamano's picture
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Bob Sacamano commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 6:52am

RF hosts a great podcast! Will listen into this one for sure.

blower's picture
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blower commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 7:48am

I met Ray on a bit of a scouting mission for a shoot on an out of the way shelf down that way. What a great fella, really dedicated to his work but with the eye and mind of a sensible contributor without creating local tension, unlike many others in this game. He apologised at first for what he thought could be an intrusion but I could only see it as the pure act he presents. Check out his part in Fishpeople film, pretty intense as can be seen in the pics above. All the best to you Ray and will be listening in to see how things are going.

redclement.'s picture
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redclement. commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 10:00am

Yes conversations, love it. Kanowski is good too.

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020 at 9:20pm

I reckon she leads into the answer too much. It annoys me!

Billie

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 10:07am

Looking forward to it.

I'm new to Richard Fidler and Conversations. Any recommended episodes to start with?

ilikelamb's picture
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ilikelamb commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 11:44am

The thing I like about them is that they are so random in the context of the person telling their story.
I generally listen to them when driving in the car and often find myself sitting in a car park or my driveway just to hear the end of the conversation.
Here’s one about a bricklayer.....

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/troy-everett-brickie...

Robin Masters's picture
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Robin Masters commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 7:05pm

Rob Hirst from Midnight Oil. Heavy but worth a listen.

Remigogo's picture
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Remigogo commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 10:33pm

Island bay... I began compiling a list for you, then realised you need to get on there. Great stories what ever you are into. If you can find 'Christian the Lion story' you have reached the pinnacle IMHO;)

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay commented Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020 at 5:34am

Thanks, guys.

Will dive in :-)

Bob Sacamano's picture
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Bob Sacamano commented Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020 at 8:49am

The fine cotton fiasco is one of the funnier stories told on this podcast IMO. Im not sure how accurate a description of actual events this is, but hey, never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn.

matt59's picture
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matt59 commented Friday, 10 Apr 2020 at 9:38am

Agree, the Fine Cotton episode is probably the most memorable in terms of humour.

dawnperiscope's picture
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dawnperiscope commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 2:04pm

I love the poddy's too.
I assume Richard Fidler is a stage name from his comedy days - anyone got any intel?
Surely his parents couldn't have been so cruel!

Ride on

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 2:12pm

Real name, though he pronounces 'Fidler' as 'Fyde-ler'.

Might be a Bucket/Bouquet thing. Not sure.

dawnperiscope's picture
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dawnperiscope commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 3:27pm

Yeah sure, I've listened plenty. I love Bette Mydeler too and the wynd beneath her wyngs ☺☺

That's amazing, its not like he's 70 and his parents may have had no idea. Maybe the thing that shaped him, I imagine it would have been a tough ride in the playground.

Ride on

billie's picture
billie's picture
billie commented Thursday, 9 Apr 2020 at 3:09pm

And his collegue is Dick Glover

Billie

batfink's picture
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batfink commented Sunday, 12 Apr 2020 at 10:54am

Ha, come on Stu, if it was double d it would definitely be the short I sound. One D and fydeler entirely plausible, any wordsmith should know that. :-)

Chocalatte's picture
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Chocalatte commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 2:15pm

Ray's story is a great reflection of opportunity providing inspiration & his photographic work is spectacular, capturing majestic & awe-inspiring beauty that the ocean provides so many of us on any given day! Gotta say that for aficionados of ocean imagery, Ray's work is eerily reminiscent of Jon Frank's book "Waves Of The Sea", published by Rip Curl in 1999.

JackStance's picture
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JackStance commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 3:22pm

Well done Ray, hope you're doing well.

Breath. Murdoch's empire will one day fail to control our minds.

raycollins's picture
raycollins's picture
raycollins commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 9:32pm

Yes my friend. I hope things are well for you and your family. See you on the other side!

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 3:53pm

playing live now on RN.

v. good listen

raycollins's picture
raycollins's picture
raycollins commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 5:19pm

Many thanks for the kind words everyone.
The whole thing has been an incredibly positive experience.

@Chocolatte - As for Jon's book, he was nice enough to sign my copy while having a cuppa at mine. Top bloke, mate and inspiration.

palpacino's picture
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palpacino commented Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020 at 7:40pm

A great yarn Ray. Thanks for sharing.

A few of us were having a laugh at work today about the thought of a dozen rough old naked men covered in black soot, washing each other’s “hard-to-get-at-bits”.

mibs-oner's picture
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mibs-oner commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 7:46pm

You don’t choose the wedge, the wedge chooses you!

raycollins's picture
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raycollins commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 9:31pm

Truth!

Remigogo's picture
Remigogo's picture
Remigogo commented Tuesday, 7 Apr 2020 at 11:13pm

Mr Collins.

May I just say ' a very interesting listen'.

An in-depth conversation about living through adversity polarised by the ocean.

Thank you.

raycollins's picture
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raycollins commented Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020 at 9:16am

Thanks for taking the time to physically push buttons to let me know.

Life is a trip. Stay safe.

boxright's picture
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boxright commented Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020 at 9:41am

It was a great listen but TBH I was disappointed there wasnt more talk about surf photography. Lots of information about mining, which I suppose is interesting to an ABC audience who'd have no idea about mining towns and communities, but I found myself looking at the timer thinking "only ten minutes to go and they've barely mentioned surf photography!"

Considering there was a revolution in how waves were presented it sold Ray's story short I felt. Maybe no-one outside of surfers could I understand it so the producers didn't go there? I don't know.

Robin Masters's picture
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Robin Masters commented Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020 at 2:57pm

A little off topic but does anyone know how far those Wollongong coal mines go out to sea? Or do they just go inland?

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020 at 3:38pm

None of them go out to sea. The only seam at sea level is the first one found, which is just south of the town now known as Coalcliff.

Quick digression: That coal seam was discovered by survivors of a ship wrecked at Preservation Island in Bass Strait. 47 men survived, and 17 set off in a longboat for Port Jackson 750kms to the north. They were wrecked (again!) at Ninety Mile Beach, in eastern Victoria, then undertook one of the great and tragic overland treks early Australia is known for. Through wholly alien terrain with no weapons or utensils they walked 500kms north towards Sydney, succumbing to starvation or injury one by one. Only three of them were left by the time they reached Wattamolla in the Royal National Park where they signalled a fishing boat to take them the last 50kms to Sydney.

They reported seeing coal in the cliffs just south of there and, in time, the colony built a jetty from the cliff face and began mining the coal.

After Coalcliff, the early mines were in the foothills of Thirroul, Bulli, Coledale, Bellambi, and all ran inland under the prow of the escarpment. The seams were formed deep in the Earth's crust, it was the tilt of the escarpment that brought them close to the surface.

The big mines now are over the back of the escarpmernt around Appin, and the tunnels run in many directions criss-crossing the escarpment. In fact, Ray has shown me a map of all the areas mined and it's staggering in its scope. Think thousands and thousands of kilometres of tunnels, all at varying depths and distances, snaking right throughout the escarpment. I'm looking out the window at the escarpment now and you'd never guess what's happened below.

Robin Masters's picture
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Robin Masters commented Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020 at 5:01pm

Thanks Stu for the info.
Quite amazing when you think about it.

palpacino's picture
palpacino's picture
palpacino commented Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020 at 7:38pm

Agreed Stu.

One of the most amazing stories of endurance, rarely told.
I’d love to retrace the sailor’s trip one day (with a surfboard and fishing rod of course).

For the podcast buffs, RN covered this story a few years ago https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/earshot/the-sailors-walk/8...

Mark McKenna’s book ‘From the Edge’ is an excellent read too.

Phil Jarratt's picture
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Phil Jarratt commented Saturday, 11 Apr 2020 at 7:36am

Let's not forget Jock Serong's excellent dramatisation of the journey in his book Preservation, published last year.

Phil Jarratt

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Saturday, 11 Apr 2020 at 7:38am

Forget? I wasn't even aware.

Down the bookshop I go.

Robin Masters's picture
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Robin Masters commented Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020 at 9:03pm

Will have a listen palpacino.
Thanks mate

bunker-spreckles's picture
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bunker-spreckles commented Thursday, 9 Apr 2020 at 3:45pm

Just listened to the podcast. Excellent stuff - I found the insight into coal-mining fascinating - especially for us urban types - and I think Ray's images speak for themselves. One of the great things about surfing is the truly diverse people who are involved, as well as the connection with the ocean/nature. Ray's life philosophy, and willingness to change were inspirational.

Bunker-Spreckles

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot commented Thursday, 9 Apr 2020 at 7:31pm

x2 bunker. Great listen.

Remigogo's picture
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Remigogo commented Thursday, 9 Apr 2020 at 10:53pm

X3 bunker-speckled. Well said.

Panman's picture
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Panman commented Thursday, 9 Apr 2020 at 7:04pm

I was sure bunker spreckles was in heaven but I have been deceived before
He was an enigma that’s for sure
Ray really came across as a top fella which indeed he is

stunet's picture
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stunet commented Friday, 17 Apr 2020 at 10:07am

Live right now!

'Fishpeople' by Patagonia, starring Ray, plus Kimi Werner, Rasta, amongst others:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vejz78dhfZk&feature=youtu.be

flow's picture
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flow commented Friday, 17 Apr 2020 at 1:15pm

Nice cameo Stu