Roadtrips make little sense if you do not have a 4 wheel SUV and you want to go off the highways and the various unsealed roads. Realistically, walking is the only way to go off road to explore this region. The 2018 camel trek from west of Arkaroola to Mt Hopeless was the first attempt to do this.
Walking in northern South Australia is somewhat different from the English conception of rambling (with its politics around the right to roam) and the way the British landscape has been photographed. The harshness of the terrain in the northern Flinders Ranges in South Australia means that there is no walking in the summer bushfire season (roughly from October to April); that walking needs to be done in groups; and that it requires experienced guides who have a knowledge of the country and are able to find their way through it.
So where does that leave me with respect to the project?
It needs to be a project otherwise it is just a collection of snaps. Vagueness is central to this walking /photography project at the moment. There are no sharp boundaries and there are many borderline photographs. I also have no idea what walking the country means as a photographic project. What am I trying to do with this project? I don’t know. What is the central idea behind the walking project? Dunno.
How does this kind of walking relate to the tradition of walking and photography in the country in Europe, the US or Australia? I have to admit that I know next to nothing of that tradition. Most of my knowledge is about walking and photography in the city–drifting and strolling– Situationist concepts that are not relevant to walking the arid country in the northern Flinders Ranges. What is emerging is a geo-tourism in the Flinders Ranges that is linked to the Heysen and Mawson Trails.
On the 2018 (June) camel trek in the northern Flinders Ranges I just walked and took photos before, during and after our daily walking. I had no idea what I was getting into, what was involved walking with camels, or any sense of the terrain that I was walking in. I have bought a detailed topographical map of the region (1:250,000) since the walk so as to give me some idea of the region I walked through.
I had no understanding of the history of this region or its geology apart from a brief awareness that Sir Douglas Mawson, when he was Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at the University of Adelaide, had conducted field trips in the northern Flinders Ranges in the early 20th century to study the glacial geology of South Australia.
The camel trek was at the end of a decade long drought and the country was very dry: there was no water in the creeks or in the water holes, and there were dead animals everywhere. Walking the country turned out to be spending a large amount of the time walking along the dried out bed of the Hamilton Creek, which flowed north east along the western side of the Mawson Plateau.