Spectacular pictures by Peter MacDonald, capturing the essence of the Flinders Ranges and outback South Australia. With apologies to great Australian poet, C.J. Dennis, creator of 'The Sentimental Bloke.
Here’s a local South Australian icon that’s known to people call over the country and indeed the world.
I can only use my photography to make the point that it would be crazy to wreck this amazing country with mining.
The time available for making public submissions on the issue has been moved back to the end of January.
More importantly though Arkaroola has received advice the consultation process requires submissions to specifically address the management policies and zoning framework proposed in Government’s ‘Seeking a Balance’ document.
It’s outrageous if the Government should attempt to ignore submissions that simply say I don’t want to see any mining on the wilderness sanctuary.
If you want a better understanding of the situation click on UnkownsSA
If you want to make a submission, you can get some guidelines from Save Arkaroola
If you don’t think its a serious situation, Marathon Mines today notified of their intention to start low impact exploration on Arkaroola again in the near future.
The photo is Split Rock Lookout on the Ridgetop Track – massive granite outcrops in the most rugged of Arkaroola’s central and oldest country.
From here, if I’m right you would be able to see all the trucks, all the mining equipment, the air shafts, the dust and the rubble should it go ahead.
Continuing on with Bruce Swann’s work, I was interested to see he’s sketched two historc buildings at Beltana in South Australia’s far north.
Beltana is almost a ghost town these days but, for almost 50 years until the 1920s, it was a hive of activity because of the mining operations there and in the surrounding district. It had a population of around 500.
This is the old Australian Inland Mission which first served as the manse for Reverend John Flynn, the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, in 1911. It was turned into the Mission nursing home in 1919 and continued untll the 1950s.
In the above shot I’ve photographed it as closely as I could to the aspect used by Bruce Swan and over exposed it to try to get an effect similar to his drawings.
Similarly he sketched the rear of the Beltana Hotel, once an imposing 17 room building with a colourful history, that closed as a pub in the 1950s but remaiins in reasonable repair to this day.
And again, this is what the back of the old pub looks like today. I over exposed the shot above to try to get a good comparison with the artist’s drawings.
Bruce Swann’s many drawing on Outback stations from the Northern Territory, through South Australia, New South Wales and Western Australia didn’t just cover the more imposing homesteads and woolsheds.
He often sketched telling scenes that depicted life on these outposts of civilisation – stockyards, tack rooms, old carts and equipment, even outback racecourses and their dunnies. (Dunny – outside toilet)
This drawing inside a woolshed captures some of the paraphernalia associated with shearing – the wool press, scales and stencils used to label the bales filled with wool.
It’s an interesting sketch because I was trying to achieve the same thing when photographing the Nilpena station woolshed, which today is unused because beef cattle have replaced the sheep..
A couple of months ago I was given a book that has inspired a greater interest for me in the many ruins and old buildings of the Outback.
It’s a collection of drawings, water colour and oil paintings of Outback homesteads, woodsheds and stockyards by South Australian artist Bruce Swann.
It was given to me by his son Phil and it turned out to be a better gift than he could have imagined.
His father was a stock auctioneer who travelled much of Outback Australia with his work. His greatest talent though, was drawing and painting the buildings and structures he saw in his travels. A lot of them have now become disused or ruins, others modernised or pulled down so it’s a good record of a changing world.
From time to time I come across the same buildings Bruce Swann drew decades ago and there’s now a link there for me to work with, for he’s caught the peace and beauty that is often associated with these old buildings or the sense of adversity in what is a hard and arid landscape.
There are at least four books that have been published of Swann’s work and some of his original drawings and painting are among some major collections here and overseas.
From the book “Swann’s Australia” I’ve taken these two water colours of the Nilpena Woolshed along with two of my own photographs.
Despite the long term drought and the less than hospitable terrain, Yakkas and Spinifex make a beautiful combination.
Spinifex, or porcupine bush is something to avoid falling into. The sharp needle-like spears are particularly painful if they penetrate the skin. Tips broken off under the skin take quite a bit of dislodging.
However Spinifex is an important haven for small desert-living animals. The spears can contain an unexpected supply of water stored inside, considering the bushs’ outwardly parched appearance.
This is one variety confined to the stoney hills an valleys of the northern Flinders Ranges.
Other varieties are regarded as important stabilisers of dunes in sandy country.