The Wet ‘n’ Windy Visit of Cyclone ‘Jasper’ …

… it’s raining heavily as I pen this … it is the ‘wet’ season after all … but nothing like the utterly torrential rains that Cyclone Jasper brought to Cairns and the far north in mid December.

Although the actual cyclone was somewhat lower on the scale as cyclones go … the rains that followed in Jasper’s wake were the most intense seen up here in many decades.

Breaking most of the very long standing rainfall records, metres high flooding and massive landslides caused absolute havoc … and as usual it’s my sometimes challenging job to cover the happenings photographically. As a freelance this gets a little complicated as the phone runs a little hot from calls from news publications and the ‘wires’ (news agencies).

Over the course of Jasper’s journey across the Coral Sea, it’s approach and crossing of the far north coast and it’s impact and aftermath thereafter … I found myself working for all of AAP (Australian Associated Press), AFP (Agence France Presse), NCA Newswire … and News Ltd. The images I made over the initial couple of weeks of turmoil were syndicated and published around the planet … some turning up in places and publications that I had no idea existed.

Jaspers effect on far north Queensland was massive. The Cairns northern beach suburbs of Holloways, Machans and Yorkeys Knob were inundated with metres of flood water … many residents escaping to their rooftops and eventual chopper rescue. Indigenous townships further north were so badly flooded that entire communities were evacuated. At least one was swept to their death. Metres of rain eroded mountains and caused numerous massive landslides that crushed buildings, covered main roads and changed the landscape … and that’s just part of the story.

Here’s links to just over a handful of the many publications where my work turned up over the cyclone event … The Arkansas Democrat Daily – USA, The Peninsula – Qatar, The Hindustan Times – India, The New Straits Times – Malaysia, RNZ – New Zealand, France 24, International – The News – Pakistan, Kuwait Times … and The Augusta-Margaret River Mail – WA Australia. They were scores more around the planet.

There’s a selection of my Jasper images (so far) below and here are short details of each for context … from top … as follows … 1. The Sanders family watch Jasper roll in across the Coral Sea at Holloways Beach … 2. Linda Applbee sits on the saturated contents stripped from their flooded Holloways Beach home … 3. Two Pictures on the wall … Steven and Caroline Cheng survey the flooding in their house of 38 years at Holloways Beach … 4. Evacuated residents leave the flooded Barron River bridge Cairns to return to their Holloways beach home … 5. Evacuated residents reunite with rescued family members at the Barron River Bridge Cairns … 6. (left) A discharged patient awaits outside the Emergency Department of Cairns Hospital behind a line of sand bags … (right) Tree surgeon Brice Stienstra removes a felled tree from Muddies Playground on the Cairns Esplanade … 7. (left) Rattled … Inundated ‘Rattle ‘n’ Hum’ bar on the Esplanade at Palm Cove as Jasper closes in … (right) 11 year old Cairns resident Jaxon Andrews tends to a cyclone battered and drenched white cockatoo … 8. (left) Ergon electrician Justin Pitts prepares to fix a power line victim of Jasper … (right) Motorists traverse flooded Cairns streets during torrential rains … 9. A massive tree snapped by Jasper on the Cairns Esplanade.

The first image of the waves at Holloways Beach turned up full TV screen whilst watching CNN … and the fourth image, made at the Barron River bridge in Cairns, was one of 23 images selected in the ‘Australia’s Best Agency Photography for 2023’ collection published by The Guardian. Nice …

Covering Jasper certainly wasn’t uneventful … my favourite lens became a victim of saturation … and I managed to fracture a vertebrae in a fall … minor stuff … and I’ve a feeling Jasper’s story isn’t quite over yet …

Images © Brian Cassey, AAP, AFP, NCANewswire

Covid Lockdown in Cairns …

… seemed inevitable that it would happen sometime … and will likely happen again … a coronavirus pandemic lockdown in Cairns. Our tropical city has led a charmed life since last years initial lockdown in March and April … and we’ve watched as lockdowns have been instituted regularly around the rest of the country.

It took a mariner who had contracted the virus on an offshore ship before travelling back to Cairns and passing it on to a taxi driver to change all that and spark a (thankfully only) three day total lockdown.

These are just a few of the many images I made for Australian Associated Press (AAP) this week. More of my lockdown pics may be found on the AAP site here. (I also spent time covering the lockdown for News Ltd and you may have seen some of those in the local media.)

From top we have … 9 year old Lexie Barlow is tested by QML staff for covid-19 at a testing centre on the Cairns Esplanade … the Cairns Esplanade Lagoon empty and closed for the lockdown duration … masked indigenous children Isiah Bligh and Jakian Costello play in the rain during the Yarrabah lockdown … with occupancy down to seventeen percent a housekeeper patrols the empty corridors of the Cairns Hilton Hotel … Cairns residents queue for covid-19 testing at a QML test centre on the Esplanade … a girl exercises on the Cairns Esplanade during the lockdown.

Cairns has been fortunate since the pandemic began early in 2020 … and fingers crossed these are the last images of a local lockdown.

Images © Brian Cassey and AAP

Covid-19 Lockdown in Cairns - images by © Brian Cassey, AAP

Covid-19 Lockdown in Cairns - images by © Brian Cassey, AAP

Covid-19 Lockdown in Cairns - images by © Brian Cassey, AAP

Covid-19 Lockdown in Cairns - images by © Brian Cassey, AAP

Covid-19 Lockdown in Cairns - images by © Brian Cassey, AAP

Covid-19 Lockdown in Cairns - images by © Brian Cassey, AAP

Aussies Off To Tokyo Olympics …

A pleasure to have the opportunity to document … for Australian Associated Press (AAP) … the departure of just on half Australia’s Olympic squad as they left the country for the Tokyo Games at Cairns International Airport on Saturday. Sadly I wasn’t on the flight with them …

The QANTAS charter aircraft was chokers with about 280 face masked athletes and officials from the swimming, rowing, hockey, water polo, beach volleyball, table tennis, weightlifting and badminton teams on board. Amongst the masked throng was Australia’s ‘Madam Butterfly’ Gold medalist Susie O’Neill (fourth image below) … currently Deputy Chefs de Missions for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Disturbingly, shortly after the aircraft lifted off from the Cairns runway the news dropped that an official had tested positive for COVID-19 at the Tokyo Olympics athletes’ village. A worrying development for the team.

Below are just over a handful of the pics I made of the athletes departure for the (2020 or 2021 ?) Tokyo Olympic Games … the complete set of 45 images may be found on the AAP site HERE.

Images © AAP/Brian Cassey

The Australian Olympic team departs Cairns for the Tokyo 2021 Games - Images by Brian Cassey for AAPThe Australian Olympic team departs Cairns for the Tokyo 2021 Games - Images by Brian Cassey for AAP

The Australian Olympic team departs Cairns for the Tokyo 2021 Games - Images by Brian Cassey for AAP

The Australian Olympic team departs Cairns for the Tokyo 2021 Games - Images by Brian Cassey for AAP

The Australian Olympic team departs Cairns for the Tokyo 2021 Games - Images by Brian Cassey for AAP The Australian Olympic team departs Cairns for the Tokyo 2021 Games - Images by Brian Cassey for AAP

The Australian Olympic team departs Cairns for the Tokyo 2021 Games - Images by Brian Cassey for AAP

Guns & Basketball … PNG & Cairns …

What a difference a week makes …

Chalk ‘n’ Cheese …

One week I’m in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, shooting (if you’ll excuse the term) images of camouflaged ‘Special Services’ police heavily armed with automatic weapons … and the next week I’m banging away at fourteen Commonwealth Games basketball games and the heir to the British throne. That’s why I’m thoroughly rapt with the job I’m privileged to do.

The story in PNG … with words by excellent ‘News’ journalist Charles Miranda … was based on gun running into Australia’s closest neighbour in the lead up to the visits of the World’s leaders (including Trump and Putin) to the APEC conference in Port Moresby in November. The story and pics got a great run in many News Ltd mastheads around the country including The Daily Telegraph, the Courier Mail, The West Australian … and more that I haven’t yet seen.

Back in Cairns in time for the XXI Commonwealth Games and the mens and womens Preliminary and Qualifying Finals basketball games with teams from India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Nigeria, New Zealand, Canada, England, Scotland … and Australia. (Sadly … the one game featuring England was disastrous if you hailed from across ‘The Ditch’ … they were duly thrashed by the Cannacks.)

Basketball, played in a perfectly lit but sterile indoor environment, is generally formulaic to shoot … but I did spend a few valuable minutes attempting something a little different during a couple of games … including an image I was a little pleased with (middle pic below) made during the Australian win over Nigeria. A slow shutter speed combined with a bit of vertical panning …

Prince Charles also made an appearance at the basketball and, as the ‘Pool’ photographer, my images of Charley were made available to all of Getty Images, the European Press Photo Agency (EPA) and my ’employer’ Australian Associated Press (AAP). Security, protocol, time restraints and bully tactics by broadcast media meant that good images were a challenge … but I did produce what I thought a nice comprehensive set.

So … a rewarding couple of weeks work … and variety is certainly the ‘spice of life’.

Below … one of my images of PNG ‘Special Services’ officers … and just one of the published ‘News’ feature pages (The Daily Telegraph) … pics from my Commonwealth Games basketball coverage (Australia V Nigeria and Scotland V Nigeria) and the visit of Prince Charles.

Images © Brian Cassey, News Ltd and AAP

Papua New Guinea 'Special Services' police - image by Brian Cassey

Papua New Guinea 'Special Services' police - The Daily Telegraph - by Brian Cassey

Australia's Angus Brandt (left) and Nigeria's Prince Orizu contest during the Men's Preliminary Round Pool A Basketball between Australia and Nigeria at the XXI Commonwealth Games Cairns, Australia. Image by Brian Cassey

Nigeria's Musa Usman goes up to shoot as Scotland's Alasdair Fraser tries to block during the Men's Qualifying Finals basketball game between Scotland and Nigeria at the XXI Commonwealth Games in Cairns - image by Brian Cassey

Britain's Prince Charles (with former Australian and WNBA basketball player Lauren Jackson to his right) during the India V New Zealand women's basketball game at the Commonwealth Games, Cairns - image by Brian Cassey



Tropical Travels … with Tony …

A distinct pleasure to join the Canberra ‘press pack’ for a week covering the Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s northern Australia indigenous tour. This year the PM chose to grace the Torres Strait and the Northern Peninsula Area at the tip of Cape York with his presence  – and several government Ministers also decided it was a good idea and left the chilly climes of Canberra to join him.

I was one of three still photographers in the ‘pack’ – the others being talented ‘fotostrada’ colleague and AAP staffer Tracey Nearmy and Fairfax Canberra politics photographer Alex Ellinghausen. Also carting still cameras was ex Daily Telegraph snapper Brad Hunter in his new role as the PM’s media adviser and personal photographer.

As is always the story with these ‘media opportunities’ the schedule was hectic – including visits to Thursday Island and Mer (Murray) Island in the Torres Strait – and then the NPA communities of Seisia, Bamaga, Injinoo, Umagico and New Mapoon. Highlight of the week was arguably Tony Abbott’s visit to the grave of Eddie Mabo (who infamously was instrumental in overturning the legal doctrine of terra nullius) on Mer Island.

Since our return from the far far north Tracey and I have compiled a photo essay – “Tropical Travelling with Tony” – which is now published on the web site of our ‘fotostrada’ collective under ‘Latest Stories’ at .

The collection of 33 images document the week of the tour concentrating on the background picture, the pics that wouldn’t/didn’t make the press – and the people and places that were impacted by the visit of Australia’s political leader. Plus the odd ‘different’ pic of Tony himself.

Below I’ve posted just three of the large essay – the top two made by myself and the third from Tracey.

Images © Brian Cassey (top two) and Tracey Nearmy (AAP – bottom)