A chance to see wild bears in action

Wild bear

It’s not every day you get the chance to see wild bears in action – caught on camera as they catch wild salmon in their mouths at Brooks Falls in the Gulf of Alaska.

But that’s what Kevin Dennes enabled a packed room of residents at the Beauty Point Retirement Resort to do recently when he showed them a series of amazing photos he’d taken when he was at Brooks Falls in 2007.

Kevin has been a professional photographer since he was 18 and during that time, the bulk of his work was in the medical and scientific field of photography. But his own personal interest was always in taking photos of wildlife. As he said: “My own particular interest was taking photos in Africa and in the Antarctic and the Arctic – and of course the bears in Alaska.”

You may recognise these photos
At his presentation, Kevin told the audience they’d probably recognise these photos because they’re all shot in the same place that John West© used to shoot those salmon ads for so many years.

“This is the best place in the world you can get up close enough to actually get a good photo of the salmon jumping through the air. They’re trying to get over the falls as they swim upstream to the very place where they spawn, and of course, the bears will always be there waiting for them at the top of the falls.”

Kevin says getting a photo of the bear just as they grab the salmon in their jaws is a matter of timing as the photo has to be taken at the right “split second,” – usually at about ½,000th of a second!

After 2800 photos – the perfect one!
“You have to take the chance and take photos as fast as you can. I took about 2800 photographs to get the one photograph I was after,” he adds, showing us an amazing photo of a bear catching a salmon in its mouth, perfectly at the right moment.

When asked where the market is for this type of photograph. Kevin says an American wholesale travel bureau, selling travel in Alaska. He added: “It was used for several brochure covers and therefore it had to be of high quality.”

Getting to the right vantage point
Many of the places Kevin has taken photos in have not been easy to get to and Brooks Falls in the Gulf of Alaska is no exception. As he said: “You have to fly from Lake Hood in Anchorage by sea plane and then you have to fly for about four hours and land on the Brook’s Lake. Then you walk through the bush, along the Brook’s River for about two kilometres to the Brooks Falls.”

“The bush land is all bear country and one has to be very much on alert at all times.  As an aside, there are more seaplanes at Lake Hood than in the whole of the South Pacific! And there are more licensed aircraft pilots, per head of population living in Anchorage than any other city in the world!”

Once Kevin reached the right vantage point at Brooks Falls in the Katmai National Park, he had to work fast because he knew his time would be limited: “We flew from Lake Hood very early. We knew we had to fly back by seaplane and the seaplanes have to land before dark at approximately 9pm – so we knew we only had so much time at the falls,” he said.

“I was there at the peak of the salmon run. This is the only place you can get a shot like this. The bears are gorging themselves so they can build up their fat stores for hibernation. They eat the heads, the roe and the skin of the salmon – but they don’t eat the flesh,” he explained. “That is left for the seagulls!”

Fourth time lucky for Beauty Point residents
This is the fourth time Kevin has shown some of his amazing photos at Beauty Point Retirement Resort. Previously he treated residents to a series of photos he’d taken on a tour of East Africa and later he showed some of his best photos from a tour of the Antarctic and at another, of the Arctic.

“I’ve done a tremendous amount of travel – most of it paid by someone else,” he said. “I’ve travelled on the seven continents and it’s been a wonderful experience for me.”

At one time, Kevin worked for the Etosha Lion Research  Centre in Namibia. This was a National Geographic research project. So most of the photography he did for them was used for research material to be used in scientific papers etc.








Mark Barron returns as head chef at the Beauty Point Restaurant

The Beauty Point Retirement Resort is happy to announce that Mark Barron has returned as the head chef for the Beauty Point Bar & Grill Family Restaurant.

Mark’s already back cooking the hearty home cooked meals everyone loves. He used to work at the resort five years ago and says he’s glad to be back.

“I missed working here after getting to know many of the residents and staff,” he said. “I tend to know what they like. They want their hearty home cooked meals like corned beef and cabbage – and other meals like that.”

Mark started out as an apprentice chef for Ansett and worked for them for 15 years. He then worked as a chef at the Mercantile Hotel in the Rocks for 12 years until around 2011, he came to work at Beauty Point Bar & Grill Family Restaurant. After being here for some time he moved on to work as a private caterer.

But now he’s back at Beauty Point seven days a week, which means he’s very busy but his wife, Lorraine, is helping him as well as his assistant so the work load doesn’t get too much.

Beauty Point Bar & Grill Family Restaurant reviews

The Beauty Point Bar & Grill Family Restaurant has lots of customers from the resort but people also come from the local area. We spoke to two Beauty Point Resort residents and asked them why they enjoy going to the restaurant and here’s what they had to say.

Maree Jones and her husband, John, have been residents of the Beauty Point resort for six and a half years now. They enjoy dining at the restaurant a great deal. As Maree said: “We’re very happy to see Mark back. We do enjoy going to the restaurant immensely. We sometimes go three or four times a week, particularly if family or friends are visiting. Everyone enjoys the lovely dining room and that beautiful view – it all adds to the pleasure.”

“We have a roast dinner on Sunday and it’s very enjoyable. It’s such reasonable pricing because you get a bread roll along with your meal, a glass of wine, plus a dessert and coffee – and it’s all for $18!” she added.

“We love the desserts like bread and butter pudding and apple strudel. It’s all particularly enjoyable in the winter months,” Maree said.

Judy Parkins has been living at the Beauty Point resort for over a year now and she said: “The restaurant provides a wonderful service and the servings are generous. There’s a Sunday roast and for what you get, it’s a very reasonable price!”

“As well as the food being well cooked, the presentation’s wonderful. The winter menu is full of great meals like Irish stew, corned beef cabbage and mash and Chicken Parmigiana. If sometimes you don’t feel like going to the restaurant, they’ll deliver it for you,” Judy added.

Judy said recently, she asked Mark if he could do a high tea for her as she wanted to have a few people over to celebrate her retirement. Mark said yes and Judy says he and his staff really went out of their way. The end result was, according to Judy, “Magnificent!”

“Mark had all these beautiful cups and plates and tiers of scones, plus these amazing individual desserts. The service was wonderful and we had the choice of about 15 different types of teas. In the end, we had over 50 people there and it worked really well. I think Mark can really cater for any occasion,” she added.

The Beauty Point Bar & Grill Family Restaurant is open for lunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm and for dinner from 5.30pm to 8.00pm. Call on 02 8708 4713 for bookings or just drop in.