Monday, 28 February 2011

Journey’s end – for now ….. Guest Blog by Augustine Mathews

One of my favourite poems is My Country by Dorothea Mackellar
“I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of drought, and flooding rains”. We’ve all heard it and there is, for me, now an extra element that I have gained an appreciation for - our farmers.
As a city kid I have never really given too much thought to the ‘man on the land’ other than when they appear in the headlines as those doing it tough in the drought. Now I feel completely differently.
The time I spent in the growth region that extends from the Great Dividing Range west to St George has really served to open my eyes. Talking to the people whose livelihoods depend on fickle Mother Nature has given me a far greater appreciation of the tightrope so many of our growers tread. Rain on a ready crop of cotton or wheat will decimate a crop, while not enough water makes it impossible to grow anything. A big ask of a country where rain seems to come in two types – too much or too little.
Our homeward trip was an expedition of crop naming for me; cotton, sorghum, cattle, sheep, fields waiting for wheat. When I asked Danielle if we could go into a field to photograph the sorghum I was horrified to learn that my innocent desire for a photograph could cost a farmer their livelihood. There is a fungus that can be walked into a field and devastate the crop not only for that year, but also for future usage. 
Acres of sorghum
Image by Augustine Mathews
We came across a field where the header (the machine that harvests sorghum and wheat) was taking a sample and we were given permission to come in and take some shots. I have to say – it is a photographers paradise. I could have stayed for hours.
 The header clips the sorghum then separates the grain from the chaff
Image by Augustine Mathews

Our mission as we headed west was to teach photography to those who would learn in St George, but on reflection, I think I learnt more than I taught. I’d like to thank the marvellous people who came along for their hospitality and their willingness to teach the city kid a few things. 
 Mountains of sorghum 
Image by Augustine Mathews

For my city cousins I say – go west. There is an amazing part of the country with visual images to stun and people who will welcome you and share their stories. I’m home again now but I have to say – I’m looking forward to my next chance to head west again … I hear the early April harvest of cotton from the dazzling acres of white is pretty impressive.

No comments: