action-story | 5th Apr, 2005

Marcel Hoog-Antink: Looks at the river in more ways than one

Marcel Hoog-Antink loves to come out to the mouth of the Glenelg River at dusk to take photographs. “At sunset, this whole place is transformed into a lake of gold – everything is covered in golden light.”

Originally from Holland, Marcel has spent the past 20 years working in natural resource management in south-west Victoria. One of the key projects he worked on during his time as a Parks Ranger at Nelson, was protecting the breeding sites of the Little Tern, an endangered species. One or two pairs have been breeding on the isthmus at the mouth of the river for the past twelve years.

“We put ropes around the sites and people, volunteers from all over the place, would come for a few days and look after it.” Marcel has seen a steady growth in tourism in the area, mostly from Melburnians seeking a break from the city during summer and Easter holidays.

“We did a lot of visitor management. This place is very popular in summer.” He says most visitors are attracted to the area by the pristine beauty of the river. “You’ve got a river going through a forest, it’s still relatively untouched.”

Marcel feels that the biggest threat to the Glenelg River is a lack of flow after Rocklands Dam.

“The river has always needed more water. Upstream, it hardly looks like a river, does it? It’s almost a creek!”

A keen birdwatcher and photographer, Marcel works with the Portland Field Naturalists to record bird sightings in the area. He recently designed the club’s logo for “The History of the Portland Field Naturalist’s Club”, a booklet commemorating the club’s upcoming 60th anniversary.

Marcel was reluctant to take up photography at first, for fear he would miss out on seeing the scenery beyond the camera lens. Marcel travelled the world for many years without taking a single photo. “I didn’t want to take snapshots, because it becomes obsessive – you start looking through the bloody lens all the time!”

It was when he travelled to Nepal that a friend finally convinced him to take his camera. “I enjoy taking photos, but it’s a very technical way of looking at things.”

Over 20 years, Marcel has grown to know and love the Glenelg River, capturing the different seasons, moods and light of the place through the camera. “It’s a great place this, it really is.”

Gazing across to the other side of the river, Marcel worries that Nelson will not remain a quiet little fishing village for long. “It’s all still open land here – if you come back here in 15-20 years time, it may be all chopped up and subdivided. It’s still underdeveloped – but how long is that going to last for?”

Marcel has had a number of wildlife and landscape photographs published, including one featured in the December 2004 edition of American Photographer.

He currently has a number of works displayed in the Arts Company in Portland and is an active member of Portland’s Camera Club.

Written and edited by Anna Boustead. April 2005