Sony A7 R111

Benbibuta Creek

You could only walk this country in the winter months.

We made camp by the side of Benbibuta Creek that night. There had been a big flood in the creek from the monsoonal rains in January, and it washed out part of Arkaroola Blinman Rd near our camp and piled up lots of debris against the various river gums. I had time to go photographing and the overcast sky in the late afternoon meant that the light was soft.

Benbibuta Creek

A flock of correlas had made their home in the trees in the creekbed near the camp. Their sounds were welcome, as it was unusual to hear so many birds. It’s a silent landscape, apart from the sounds of the odd donkey or goat, or the wind on the plains and in the trees.

river gums, Benbibuta Creek

Did the flock of correlas mean that water was nearby? I hadn’t see any in the creek bed when I was walking around it making photos until the light faded.

The old provincialism problem that stayed around for around 20 years after Bernard Smith’s European Vision and the South Pacific 1768-1850 (1960) no longer makes sense. We are no longer seeing our country through the inherited forms of others–ie., seeing the country we live in through alien pictorial categories in the sense that our culture was merely the recapitulation of something that had already occurred elsewhere (Britain then America). Provincial art follows the lead of that made in the metropolis. Nor is the derivateness or mimicry of others a way to establish a renewed Australia’s culture identity through cross cultural exchange.

What we have are photos of a typical creek bed landscape premised on empirical naturalism on the frontier, where the European Enlightenment had crumbled on the periphery of empire. Local or regional landscapes are usually associated with the pre-modernist conservatives in the first half of the 20th century, who were opposed to modernism. I think it was called Australian pastoral, understandably because pastoralism was the driving force of exploration, the frontier was and the production of wealth in the nineteenth century.

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