We camped that night in the gorge and I had some time to walk around making some photos. I had started to think in terms of post colonial landscapes, but without having much understanding or idea about how to construct a different kind of visual language do this kind of landscape photography.
I photographed the trunks of the river gums as abstracts to avoid the tourist representations of the Flinders Ranges as well as those in the commercial art market. Abstracts that show the colour and form of the bush itself, and in doing so shows the value of the bush from the perspective of walking in it.
This counters the standard non-ecological idea of the the arid country as largely lifeless and especially threatening– the arid interior as a foreboding place that is contrasted to the fertile and green coastal country. This Anglo-centric perceives desert country more in terms of absence than of presence.
The following morning (Day 9, 29th/5) we continued to walking through the gorge to its north eastern end. We had our lunch just outside the entrance of the gorge. I photographed the bark of river gums that was lying on the ground at the foot of the trees — photographs of the accidents of the bush in an ordinary place that was encountered by chance in an ever changing landscape. This approach shows the intricacies of this region’s ecology.
I knew nothing of the stacked histories of the Adnyamathanha people whose country this was. This area, the gorge, floodplain and Lake Frome– would be a landscape of their stories. As this land would be rich with meaning for them the human and deep-history layers are overlaid in the landscape.
The flat flood plain out to Lake Frome stretched before us. We then walked across the plain basically walking along Chambers Creek bed lined with river gums as it headed east across the flood plain.
The plain itself was stony, dry and dusty with dead trees–yet it was not lifeless. There were some Victoriae wattle (Acacia victoriae) and salt bush (Atriplex nummularia). Cow dung was everywhere.–we were back in pastoral country.
I took no photos that afternoon after camp as my back was too sore. I slept to rest it. We camped that night on the open plain with the Flinders Ranges behind us. We had walked around 13.8 kilometres that day.