I had planned to go on a roadtrip to the Mallee this week on my own, but an infected tooth has seen that trip cancelled. Instead I am reading Don Watson’s book The Bush: Travels in the Heart of Australia (2016). From what I can gather the book is based Watson buying a 4WD in 2009 and setting off across the eastern part of the country on a road trip. Along the way he… Read More
Photographing the rural landscapes of the Mallee country needs to be distinguished from the idyllic pastoral tradition in Australian visual culture that in the Heidelberg tradition emphasised the tamed farmland with its abundance of natural resources. The artists represent this in the almost mandatory blue and gold palette. This form of pastoralism refers to representations of a rural landscape during the European colonial settlement of the land, with its sheep grazing and cropping,… Read More
In a previous post I mentioned how I had reconnected to an old photo trip that I made in the 1980s in the VW Kombi to Mantung and Galga in the South Australian Mallee. However, I didn’t mention that I had some re-photography possibilities in mind. On the earlier trip I made several black and white photos with a large format camera ( these are in my film gallery on the Mallee Routes website), and… Read More
This part of the South Australia Mallee is an empty landscape. It has been de-populated. An example of the process of depopulation in this landscape the East Murray Area School, which used to have around 270 pupils in the 1960s and it now has 19 pupils.
I made a day trip into the South Australian mallee along the Karoonda Highway on Tuesday. Elders Weather website said that there would be rain, cloud and sunshine on that day–conditions that are more congenial for my style of photography than the blues skies and sunshine that was forecast for the next 5 days including Easter. The dryland region along the Karoonda Highway was new territory for me, as I’d only… Read More
The latest issue of the Griffith Review is No 55 and it is about the future of a post-colonial South Australia. The issue is entitled State of Hope and it is edited by Julianne Schultz and Patrick Allington and it consists of short essays and memoir, fiction pieces and poetry, and photo stories. Authors include Robyn Archer, John Spoehr, Peter Stanley, Angela Woollacott, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Chris Wallace, Dennis Atkins, Nicholas Jose, and Ali Cobby Eckermann. This is an Adelaide and… Read More
People are leaving the countryside and moving to the more prosperous towns and cities. As young people depart, they leave small towns and hamlets of empty houses and shuttered shops, of closed schools and cafes, and a greying population.
It was an opportunistic scoping trip. I needed to reconnect with the project after Tasmania, to explore the towns along the Mallee Highway, to reconnect with people in Murrayville, and to assess whether I needed to camp for several days to do the large format photography that I had in mind.
One innovative representation of the Victorian Mallee that I came across whilst on the Hopetown phototrip in 2016 was the murals that were being painted on the silos throughout the Victorian north-west Mallee. One notable example was the mural on GrainCorp’s disused silo at Brim, which had been painted by the Brisbane street artist Guido van Helten in collaboration with the local community. This site has become a tourist icon in the Wimmera, judging by the number… Read More
The wheat was everywhere whilst I was on the Hopetoun road trip. I took a few 35mm snapshots of the dryland wheat fields with my old film Leica (an M4-P) whilst I was on my way back to our campsite at Hopetoun from Sea Lake. I’d been to Lake Tyrrell that afternoon to look for the remains of an old salt works butI didn’t have much luck. I just couldn’t find it. The… Read More