Taking the high ground…

What do you do when signs like this condemn you to staying in heavy metal suburbia? Acres and rows of caravans, SUVs, Winnebagos and mobile homes?

© Rob Walls 2011

I’m getting the impression that every morning in Australia entire tribes of grey nomads uproot themselves and move off in a clockwise direction around Australia, like those great swirling schools of fish that are rounded up by dolphins. Millions upon millions of dollars, entire cities on the move each day.

The night before last, I complied for a single night for $45 for a “powered site”; a place to pitch my swag, park my truck and charge my computer, take a shower and walk 150 metres every time I wanted to take a piss. Faced with those kind of options, there is only one choice for me, become an outlaw.

Suburbia on wheels © Rob Walls 2011

In Exmouth, Western Australia, the tourist guide books recommended watching the sunrise falling on the ridges at Shothole Canyon in the Cape Range National Park. After doing a recce during the day, I calculated both sunset and sunrise would be good,. But risking driving in the dark over several miles of rough gravel road regularly crossed by kangaroos and stray livestock seemed a logical justification for ignoring the law. So, I found myself a well-concealed little campsite, well off the road, a few hundred metres from the canyon and pitched my swag to wait for the light.

My campsite at sundown © Rob Walls

I know which of these two campsites will linger in my memory.

Taking the high ground in Cape Range National Park © Rob Walls 2011

Late afternoon sky Shothole Canyon, Cape Range National Park, Western Australia from my elevated ridge © Rob Walls 2011

The brightest stars of the Southern Cross linger in the morning sky above my campsite as the sun begins to comee over the ridge © Rob Walls 2011

My camp at 6.30am, Cape Range National Park WA © Rob Walls 2011

The morning sun clips the range tops, Cape Range National Park, Western Australia © Rob Walls 2011

The irresistible self-portrait of every solo travelling photographer at sunrise © Rob Walls 2011

I could write a lengthy diatribe about loss of freedom, the shrinking of our horizons, the nanny state, but if I did, I’d have to admit that part of the enjoyment is in defying the restrictions that would corral us all in fenced-off, controlled areas where one’s wallet is captive to the conventional.


Filed under Australia, Australian, Digital photography, documentary photography, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, Stock photography, travel

10 responses to “Taking the high ground…

  1. Hi Rob……Looks great…safe travels mate…..

  2. Irene walls

    Stunning sky shots.
    Stay on your defying path Rob.

    • Thanks Irene…the back story to those pictures was that not long after taking the evening shots I became violently ill; a dodgy Exmouth Gulf prawn I had for lunch; or maybe just an excess. Anyway, as I crawled groaning into my sleeping bag I pondered the actual wisdom of my highl-concealed, off-road campsite, imaging my dessicated corpse being found months or even years later, still in my swag with my eBook reader clutched in my claw. As you can see by the dawn shots I survived.

  3. I am told (very reliably) that there are more signs carying rules in OZ carvan parks than there stars in the sky

    Barrlett has quit! more trousers trouble with La la , I hear, not that I am one to spread damaging gossip. How’s what’s here name going Rob. Who’s cooking?

    • Photographed another council sign today that says, “no Camping this includes all tents caravans vans buses cars and other vehicles swags”. No punctuation but no swags, how un-Australian is that? I’d heard the Bartlett resignation was due, but not your gossip/rumour/innuendo. What’s her name? Are you talking of my much admired and un-named truck? She is performing faultlessly, taking me past 10,000km yesterday on this trip so far.

  4. Robert

    Hi Rob,
    Good to hear that your travels are mostly going well. We have discovered that shires/councils in some areas have no sense of imagination. Like you, we look back on our trip and remember the free or national park camp sites with fond memories. Also meeting fellow travellers is one of the best experiences. The best sense of camaraderie is often found out in the bush, where life is unhurried and there is no tv to distract from a good yarn. We are itching to get back on the road again after one day at home! Thanks for the updates.

  5. I get totally pissed off with this anti-camping campaign (and the bloody signs) here in Byron. I like seeing kids parked up and sleeping on our streets….reminds me of my youth and what it’s like to be young. I think we need a nation wide campaign where councils don’t act on complaints until the complainant has mustered a quorum….save the country millions!

  6. Geoff Swan

    Great photographs. Just returned to the US after 3 weeks in Australia. First trip to this wonderful place, part of which was spent with Tim & Trish up in Broome. Can’t wait to go back

    • Thanks Geoff. I’ve just got in to the gold mining city of Kalgoorlie after two days of photographing salt mining 250km west of here. I’ve been travelling now for over two months on this trip. Glad you enjoyed your visit. I can’t wait to get back again to Broome in August. I’ll be posting more pictures over the next couple of days.

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