3 Apr 2017
An Australian photo.
I've just spent 5 days inland in and around Orange in NSW-about 300kms drive from home in Terrigal. Once you cross the Blue Mountains it is almost as if you have entered another country. The eastern seaboard of Australia north and south of Sydney in particular is becoming more and more crowded and frantic. It is almost more California than Australia. Cross the Blue Mountains and head inland to Orange and you can sense a change of attitude. They drive very quickly out on the open roads -but the distances out there are big so they have a reason -but in town it's"no worries"country. It's still easy to park on the main street and there is way less hassle than in Terrigal yet alone in Sydney. It's not as if it is "hick". Coming into town there are all the usual suspects in luxury car dealers and plenty of cafes serve excellent coffee-which could hold their own in Sydney or Melbourne. It's a modern city but with a distinct country vibe. It's not all good news- it is stinking hot in summer -as I just saw when I stayed in Orange for the Bathurst 12 hour race in early February-and it is cold in winter. In fact it was already cold overnight last weekend.
Back in February the country was dry, parched and brown. Recent heavy rains have changed that. Now the country is a glorious green.
Once you are clear of the vineyards and orchards of the Orange area and head further inland you are into big sky country. It is empty and it is depopulated with the remnants of once thriving country towns and villages now standing sad and decaying. Changes in agriculture practices, consolidations of farms, mechanisation, much improved roads and cars/trucks and the population's demand for better services in education and health and regional air links to Sydney and Canberra has led to the bigger rural centres like Orange, Bathurst, Parkes and Dubbo expanding and prospering whilst the small settlements have just withered away as the populations declined. Once thriving towns like Molong and Cudal have nothing to offer. If they are lucky they have retained a post office and very rarely a bank but the butchers, bakers and minimarts along with the doctors and dentists and other staples of a small town have long gone. It is a pattern repeated across rural Australia.
If you divert onto the narrow backroads deep into the country it is glorious and empty apart from the sheep and the cattle. Plenty of rusting tanks and the occasional abandoned farmhouse but the vistas are just beautiful.
I took five photos in the five days. I really was looking for the one special shot which summed up country Australia. I think I came close to nailing it with the shot above. So Australian. Sheep and gumtrees and some sparking light from a blue sky. Photo taken on the Leica X1.