Our Country’s Good

Utter photographic joy in the heart of nowhere.

We stopped the car 20 km short of Pincally, an outback sheep station 60km off the red Silver City Highway, 200km north of Broken Hill, 1600km north west of Sydney.

The pitch black sky had split clean in two, just metres in front of our car. A giant, whip cracking fork of lightning pounded the dirt, lighting up the desert like day. We couldn’t miss the chance; tore the camera out of it’s box and opened the lens up on the colour storm erupting around us. With the iris wide open and the shutter speed a dubious 25 it was possible to capture every little spark that lit up the sky, as well as the massive blasts that shook the earth.

Our destination that night was a sheep station deep in the heart of ‘corner country’. The arid dust plain where NSW meets SA and Queensland. The mood of the area has been dramatically lifted in the aftermath of the torrential ten year drought breaking rains that have reinvigorated the native land and it’s inhabitants. In fact entire place is now anything but an arid dust plain, with wild grasses, flocks of birds, emus and kangaroos, full lakes and healthy livestock. The populace has broken from the numb decay that has gripped the region for the last decade and celebrating with parties, gymkhanas and frequent two hour trips to the ‘local’. Our director Kat had put out a call for actresses on local radio and been invited by the successful applicant to stay at her sheep station with her family. We were due to start shooting in the morning but unable to resist the opportunity presented, we sped the last few kilometres to her house, banged on the door, asked if she’d mind skipping the formalities and jumping straight into costume so we could get some shots in the storm. She was all for it and twenty minutes later we had our ghostly figure striding through the desert lit up intermittently by the jagged shafts of 20,000k cumulonimbus outpour!

The sky cleared beautifully the following morning and apart from getting bogged a couple of times we were afforded a day of sublime photography. A thin ½ stop cover of cloud diffused the sun helpfully while leaving it’s colour and warmth intact. Shadows were rich but not harsh and the usual midday black holes under the eyes fell away gently into soft contour highlighting tones. The earth showed up a rich deep red, vivid against it’s sparse new coating of dark greens. Hovering overhead, it’s curvature clearly defined horizon to horizon, the solid blue of the sky appeared a lake beset by restless wisps of pure white.

From here every moment of our nine day shoot played out like a dream. Not just the visual performance put on by our benevolent wilderness, but the openness of the people and the eagerness with which we were received. A desperately refreshing lack of suspicion permeated the entire culture and the anal film savviness of the inhabitants of Sydney was replaced with a welcoming curiosity about our project.

“You want to interview the staff at the roadhouse? Over the counter at our busiest time on Monday morning? Sure! We love you to. No you don’t have to stick a shot of our sign in your movie! No we don’t have a scale free fee system in place for film crews already. No we don’t have our own set of location releases ready to go with letter head and perforated credit card slip down the bottom. What we do have is an outdoor cinema setup in the middle of a dusty paddock on the edge of town that we drag our swags to once a fortnight for a movie night!”

Needless to say I shed a little tear on exiting the Silver City highway and careering back onto the bitumen umbilical cord that connects our cutthroat den of pirates to the rest of civilisation. I will definitely be heading out there again as soon as possible. I wonder if they’ve finished crewing Mad Max?

Comments

  1. October 11th, 2017 at 03:00PM

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