Actions have consequences. Progress can create troublesome outcomes.
I was preparing for a day trip to Mt Oriel Homestead, also known as Iandra Castle, just north of Young, NSW. Preparation involves charging batteries and clearing memory cards. Then there is that moment of decision. Do I read up on the location and think about some themes and ideas before arrival? Or just rock up and experience it unincumbered by preconceptions?
On this occasion, I opted for a little pre-reading. The chap who built the homestead, George Henry Greene, died in 1911 and warranted an obituary in a major newspaper.
Mr Greene bought the land, against the advice of all his friends. He decided to grow wheat, against the advice of all his friends. Ignoring advice is often the first step to our downfall. But … sometimes … Mr Greene’s approach is needed.
He pioneered a share system, “by which the landlord and the farmer, instead of having a fixed rent, share the profits of the soil, be they great or small.” Many good farmers, who did not have the financial capital to set up alone, were given the opportunity to build their own fortune and move on to become small landowners.
To achieve this, great tracts of densely-timbered forest were felled.
With this preparation in mind, my camera turned to the landscape around Iandra. This is the first time I’ve photographed a landscape with its history in mind. Images of rolling pastoral hills are generally used to represent the simple, even idyllic, country life. Instead, with Iandra just around the corner, I viewed these pastures in terms of loss. The landscape had been changed.
But then, amid the crowd of the open day, the humanity of the place emerged. For over 100 years, people were feed from this land and, significantly, people were supported by a pioneering system that sparked world-wide interest.
How much of our humanity is tied up in our attitude to the land that supports us? How much of our humanity is bound within our community? I have not faced a decision where the choice is between thousands of acres of forest and a dam that will provide life-saving electricity or an open-cut mine that will provide metals we can no longer live without.
I am thankful we are now planting trees on-mass while we grapple with these huge questions that have long-term implications for our society.
I have previously written about my approach to travel photography, outlining the idea of making a record and creating a resource. It’s a useful strategy that doesn’t always work. Implementing this strategy involves managing transitions, and I found I didn’t manage that very well this time.
As a result, only three images worth sharing from the Iandra open day. These hint at the many fascinating details you’ll find there.
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