Mallee Routes Murtoa photoshoot

I was so pleased with myself for this section of the  recent  Hopetoun phototrip  for the Mallee Routes project. I  had timed the photoshoot at Murtoa, in the Wimmera Mallee  perfectly.  

The light was right. So were the clouds. The Cambo 5x7 monorail was set up properly.  I took a behind the camera snap with the Sony NEX-7 to record the moment, then loaded the double dark film holders.

The spring in the camera back  broke as I was loading the double dark film holders. I took some photos but there was no pressure holding the film holder tight against the camera body. So there would be light leaks everywhere.

Carina photoshoot

Prior to going to meet Gilbert and Eric at Hopetoun in the Wimmera-Mallee  to make some more  images for the Mallee Routes project  I camped at Murrayville to photo some of the  nearby  silos.  There were a couple of days of overcast conditions in the Mallee and I wanted to take advantage of these conditions  to make some 8x10 black and white photos.

This is the silo at Carina, which is just south of Murrayville:

This is going to be a slow project.  As it is turning out it requires several hours travelling time,  overcast conditions, camping  and a few pictures in the morning and the evening at the most.  Then the weather changes back to the usual  blue sky and bright sunshine and I pack up  the photoshoot  until the next time. 

a day trip to the Mallee

On Thursday the wild, stormy winter weather eased and we had a day of overcast skies, little rain and no wind. So I loaded the large format cameras into the Subaru Outback  and took off for  a day trip the Mallee along the Mallee Highway. 

I needed to continue to  photograph the silos with the 8x10 Cambo  for the forthcoming Weltraum  exhibition  in the Shimmer Photographic Biennnale. I photographed  at Peake and Lameroo.  The silo at Geranium was  difficult and I left it for another occasion. I didn't make it to the Victorian Mallee as 220 kilometres one way was  far enough for a  day trip.  

Maleko accompanied me on the day  trip.  It was his first time on a photo trip. 

After I finished the  silo photoshoot in  Lameroo   I briefly  photographed around the town.   I struck up a conversation with a wool buyer  who had seen me photographing the silos about the history of the Murray Mallee.  He informed  me that the  last train on the Mallee Highway  railway line had been around October 2015,  and  that the silos along the Mallee Highway now stand empty. The wheat is now picked at the farm gate up by trucks  and then taken by road to either Pinnaroo or Tailem Bend.  

That is  is the end of an era that began with the vegetation clearance,  agricultural development,  small farms and  the railway infrastructure in the early 20th century.  

in the Victorian Mallee

I spent 4 days camped at  the Ouyen caravan park with Gilbert Roe  so that I could photograph some of the  grain silos in and around Ouyen  on the Mallee Highway with my large format cameras.   I managed to photography 5 silos--those from Ouyen to Linga--using a 5x7 monorail (for colour)  and an 8x10 monorail (for black and white).   

The next stage in the silo project is to camp at Murrayville so that I can  photograph the silos in and around that hamlet. I prefer overcast conditions  for this kind of photograph the silos, which makes life difficult,  as such  days are few and far between in the Mallee.  It's normally bright, sunny and cloudless. 

I also took the opportunity to start to explore  with my digital camera the countryside of  the Victorian Mallee, which is still economically based around dryland farming and large cereal farms. Even in  late autumn the northern Mallee was dry, hot  and dusty  with dust storms.  The agricultural landscapes  look as if it has extended periods of dryness that cannot simply be put down to intermittent drought. That dryness causes hardship to the local communities, the unravelling of the social  fabric, and the steady decline of the population in the towns and hamlets with their derelict houses and abandoned tennis courts.