Thoughtfactory: pictures experiments journeys

brief working notes on various photographic projects

returning to Copeville

Now that Suzanne's broken fibula is healing and she is able to walk one of standard poodles I am able to start to plan a photo trip to the Murray Mallee in South Australia. I will take Maleko with me. 

I plan to pick up where I left off prior to  the Covid pandemic, which was  in 2019. This was the Claypans  and the nearby  Copeville and Galga area  that were on the old  Waikerie railway line, which was a branch line from Karoonda. The railway  was constructed around 1914  and was closed in the 1990s.  

I will start by returning to this  site and this photo:

It will be a large format photo trip and my initial camp will be in the quarry near Copeville,  as it was on the previous trip.  Things have changed in the meantime.  The Copeville silo was painted  by Jarrod Loxton in 2022 as part of the South Australia silo art trail. 

As far as I can tell the  indigenous Australian people of this region of the Murray Mallee are  the Nganguruku.  I know very little of their history other than they lost their land to the pastoralists and the survivors moved to the Manunka Mission  near Walker Flat.  Just south is Fromm's Landing (now Tungawa),  the site of John Mulvaney's archaeological dig of a limestone rock shelter in 1956-63.

This established human occupation from 5000 years ago, the jaw of a Tasmanian devil and a tooth of a Tasmanian devil between 3900-3000 years ago,  the skeleton of a dingo and an enormous flood at the 3000 year level.   Mulvaney's subsequent book, The Prehistory of Australia (1969 ),  painted a picture of Aboriginal  occupation in Australia prior to European settlement. In rejecting  the traditional European settler view  of Aboriginal people as an "unchanging people in an unchanging environment"  it  opened the door to the deep past.

The Claypans/Copeville/Galga region of the Murray Malle  is  flat  and it is limestone country with its fragmented islands of vegetation surrounded by agricultural land and lack of surface water.  It was a landscape that was deemed barren and useless by the early European explorers and settlers. It was pastoral country  until the construction of the railways. This made the land accessible to agriculture, which required the  clearance of vast tracts of land in the first 3 decades of the 20th century. 

 Clearance controls only started to happen in the 1980s. The only  conservation parks in the Claypans/Copeville/Galga  region is the Bandon Conservation Park and the  Mantung Conservation Park.    Then there is the Ngaut Ngaut Conservation Park near Nildottie on the banks of the River Murray which has an important archaeological site.