Objects in the landscape…

While driving along this morning on my way to Exmouth (for some odd reason pronounced X-Mouth, not X-muth) I was listening to that jingoistic ABC program “Australia all Over” delivered by the irrepressible Macca (a man who seems to prefer to be known by this puerile diminutive; Macca, rhymes with okker). Anyway, amongst all the syrupy Mother’s Day filler that was supposed to bring a lump to our collective Antipodean throats, he threw in Dorothea McKellar’s reading of her own poem, “My Country”Ah, patriotism, the last refuge of the scoundrel, as Samuel Johnson once claimed.

Most Australian and many non-Australian children have at some time had this sentimentally dreary doggerel pushed down their throats and it was with highly conflicted emotions that I drove along Highway One to the educated and rather un-Australian tones of dear old Dot as she recited her most well-known verses. On the one hand I was moved by passing through the “sunburnt country, the land of sweeping plains”, she described.  On the other hand I saw that poem as the anthem of those who would wrap themselves in the flag while pushing away the boats of refugees, reluctant to share the love of this “wide brown land” with anyone other than those born here.

I had been increasingly experiencing the narrowing horizons of this wide brown land. “No overnight stopping”, “No camping except in official campsites”. No this, no that, no entry, no cameras, no fires,etc etc.  McKellar, in the final lines of her poem says,

“Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.”

There will  soon be sign that says “No homing thoughts without a permit”

Well that was a somewhat discursive rant as I sit here in an “official” campsite in Exmouth Shire surrounded by the monster 4WDs and caravans of the grey nomads. I know where I would rather wake up and that is where I was yesterday and this morning. In the lee of some white barked eucalypts watching the rising sun colour the nearby ranges, in an “unofficial” illegal campsite I had found for myself on the banks of the Fortesque River, far enough from the road to make the sound of the passing road trains no more than a sibilant surfing whisper.

So finally, here are a few objects I discovered by the roadside in McKellar’s sunburnt country…

No loaves? © Rob Walls 2011

Obviously someone doesn't love this sunburnt country © Rob Walls 2011

A symbol of progress or oppression? © Rob Walls 2011

And finally, one for the family. Yes I'm OK. With one of the hundreds of termite nests that stand like sentinel terracotta warriors on the approaches to Exmouth, Western Australia © Rob Walls 2011


Filed under art, Australia, Australian, Digital photography, documentary photography, Opinion, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, Rob Walls

10 responses to “Objects in the landscape…

  1. Nice words Rob……….and rare and precious insights/

  2. trish pepper

    gee you must have a good camera! your photos are great Rob.

  3. Great comments Rob and oh so true. I sometimes wonder what we’re all supposed to be so damn proud of! A beautiful country to be sure. Where we’re at in terms of beauracracy and intolerance – definitely not so sure.

  4. The fight against creeping beauracracy in this country is huge. One big cost saver would be to require all complaints to local government to require a quorum before any action.

    • I don’t think there is a fight Dave. We just acquiesce with a sort of supine shrug and let them do what they want. Argue about it and the most you’ll get from the average Australian is, “They must know what they’re doing”.

  5. Over regulation is a huge problem in Australia. there are signs everywhere about things we are no longer allowed to do.

    The country that boasts about freedom and fair go shows unbelievable intolerance towards asylum seekers and minority groups. People don’t speak up because they don’t want to dob in as it is un-Australian, the easy way out of standing up and be counted. That’s why all forms of government get away with this, and those who dare to speak up are considered trouble makers by local councils, etc.

    Australians have been believing in the urban myth they created themselves and it’s time for some honest reflection and a good dose of reality!

    Roel Loopers

    • I don’t think it’s so much a case of over-regulation Roel…as foolish regulation based on stupidity. Was looking at some road signs last night in the Shothole Canyon near Exmouth. The road in to the last few hundred metres of the canyon is winding, and a prominent sign points this out to you as you drive in. Having admired the beauty of the place just as you are about to leave, as though you might be suffering from short term memory loss, a sign tells you that the stretch of road you have just driven over is



  6. Irene walls

    Wonderful blog Rob.
    love the dramatic shot of Fish on Red earth.
    As an Anarchic Philosophist, I can’t stand Bureaucracy.
    Still it is worse in the UK , Lift door is closing, door opening, watch your step voices telling you every where you go, don’t do this don’t do that.
    It is all about the fear of being sued, pathetic.

    • Thanks Irene. I’m now in Carnarvon for a couple of days. Camped last night in the Cape Range National Park (illegally of course) to catch the rising sun on the ranges this morning. Also shot late afternoon panoramas from a vantage point a couple of hundred metres up a closed track (risk aversion signs ignored). Delicious! Will probably post something about it tonight.

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