The Mallee Highway part of the trip and then onto Sea Lake was a reconnecting with the past; a picking up from the earlier part of the Mallee Routes project. The closed state borders due to Covid-19 meant that I could only travel and photograph in the South Australia mallee for most of 2020.
Sea Lake in north western Victoria was a suprise: the local silo had been painted and was part of the Victorian silo trail. I also stumbled upon Skymirror when I was looking for a morning coffee. Skymirror consisted of a coffee shop, a photography gallery and printing press (Mallee Photographic Services, ) run by Dan Colombo, and boutique tourist accommodation.
The exhibition in the gallery consisted of mostly coloured photos of Lake Tyrrell, the local salt lake that attracted so many Asian tourists pre-Covid. The photographs that caught my eye were those by Anne Morley and Dan Colombo. plus the aerial photos of Timothy Moon that were made with a drone. There was mention that the next exhibition would be about the Mallee. This looked to be the rudimentary beginnings of a tourist industry.
Whilst I sat drinking my coffee and talking to fellow travellers at Skymirror I realized that the Victorian mallee was in the process of changing from when I was last in north-western Victoria. People from Melbourne were out on the road exploring their state, after Melbourne’s long, intense lockdown in 2020 to contain the community spread of the virus. Judging by the cars and caravans on the road was a marked increase in domestic tourism due to being unable to go overseas because of Australia’s closed national borders to protect Australia from the Covid -19 virus. Closing borders is politically popular.
After the coffee I drove down the Calder Highway to Castlemaine. The highway from Sea Lake to Wycheproof was new territory for me. The land changed after Wycheproof: — the mallee gave way to bigger eucalypts. I’d left the mallee country.