I’ll be posting my images from Australia across the next few blogs, this being the first post of (most likely) three. I’d originally intended to blog while I was traveling, the way I did in Asia last year, but that proved to be difficult while spending my first six weeks in the outback. Many of these images I managed to share on my Instagram when I had service, but for some this is the first time I’ve published them.
There are so many incredible things I saw and experienced in Australia, it seems almost impossible to condense over 500 GB worth of images down to just a handful to show. It feels like the easiest way is to split them into regions or segments of my summer, so this post is dedicated to my time in the Northern Territory and the outback. Australia is a beautiful and wildly diverse country, and I’m lucky to have spent time in a region that many Australians don’t even get to see.
(*The first three images are from my week of staff training in the Glasshouse Mountains; the rest were taken in the Northern Territory and Western Australia between June and July while working for Rustic Pathways.)
Part of the reason I applied to the Australia programs, out of all of Rustic’s travel destinations, is because I wanted to spend time working with and learning about the Aboriginal community there. The Outback Aboriginal Service Program is a trip that spends time volunteering with local Indigenous organizations and schools as well as visiting a handful of sacred sights to learn about Aboriginal culture and tradition. I photographed three of these trips, spending most of June and part of July traveling between Darwin, Kununurra, Katherine and Arnhem Land along the northern end of Australia.
Aboriginal culture is thought of as the longest surviving culture in the world, having been around continuously for at least 40,000 years (though many estimates I heard are closer to 60,000 years and beyond). Many of their stories and beliefs have been passed down orally, and Aboriginals today can still look at paintings from thousands of years ago and tell you what Dreamtime story the images represent. Within Australia, there are hundreds of Aboriginal countries, some the size of small European countries and each with their own unique songs and language. Today it’s estimated that all but 13 of these languages – that once numbered over 250 – are considered endangered.
The challenges this society faces in modern-day Australia are complex, and difficult even for born-and-raised Australians to explain to visitors. I spent time in several different communities and I feel lucky to have witnessed different lifestyles and perspectives on the issue, but I am by no means an expert on the subject. There is so much more to learn and understand. For that reason I won’t expand upon it too much here, except to say a big thank you to those that welcomed myself and our Rustic students into their homes and communities. I won’t forget the magic I saw in this part of the world.