Wilderness Landscape Photography

Opportunity for Wilderness Landscape Photography

Well, the desert is fairly flat and quite bland at first glance but that’s not the full story.

With dry salt lakes, myall trees, stone strewn clay pans, and red sand dunes, wilderness landscape photography images clamour for my attention from Roxby Downs to Andamooka and beyond to Lake Torrens.

Getting Around the Desert

But how can I get around? Distance is so vast and the country so inhospitable. It will kill you just for being there if you don’t look out. The family station wagon won’t go far off the bitumen. The tracks are so rough, and when it rains in this six-inch rainfall country, even a 4×4 will bog down or slip in the clay soil. There’s no way I could afford a 4×4 good enough for the trip from the coast to the centre and reliable enough to go out alone into that country. Furthermore, you wouldn’t take a good-looking vehicle on those rocky, desert tracks.

So I decided on an ATV. That’s an “All Terrain Vehicle,” “Quad Bike,” “four wheel motorbike.” I can transport it in a trailer behind the car and go to the end of the road, then jump on the bike.

Setting Up The ATV

The bike, set up with boxes on the back and front racks, pulls a small trailer. With this configuration I not only get myself way out beyond where a 4×4 will go without too much walking, but also my camera gear, tools, emergency supplies, water, fuel and my camp as well. In a nutshell, that’s about it.

Navigating the Wilderness Landscape

Navigation is with a topographic map, compass and GPS. Using the coordinates from the GPS, I know where I am on the map which is so much simpler than trying to identify distant features on a flat landscape.

For months, in my spare time, I studied the maps, getting the feel of the geography and topography and comparing this to the satellite images on Google Earth. This way I identified areas of likely interest. It’s amazing how the salt build up in Lake Torrens shows up on the satellite images confirming what I suspected from the elevation contours on the topographic map.

Wilderness Landscape Photography Trip

It’s 82 km from the bitumen to Bosworth Homestead, travelling right across Arcoona Station on the way. Parking the car beside a shearers hut, and after some good geographic and topographic advice from the pastoralist, I jumped on the bike and headed out along the track that follows the western side of Station Creek to Andamooka Island and made camp as the sun was setting.

Now, I’ve always wanted to camp on an island since I read “The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe”, as a boy. Andamooka Island, about 40 km long and up to 10 km wide is in Lake Torrens and separated from the mainland by a channel varying in width from a couple of hundred meters to a couple of kilometres.

The shallower parts of the channel were dry, so crossing was no trouble. Extensive salt water holes in the channel, super saturated and with the salt crystallizing out, provided micro and full view landscape images over coming days. With the sky subtly reflected in the base of salt crystals covered with shallow water, the stark vista was a wilderness landscape photography opportunity to be seized. Sights to blow your mind!

Camping Out

Camping, as you would imagine, was pretty basic. You can’t carry much on an ATV. No esky means no fresh meat, but tinned tuna on top of tinned beans and spaghetti goes down well when you’re hungry.

Priorities in Wilderness Landscape Photography

Photography took precedence over eating. Each day: out of bed, on the bike and off photographing before sunrise. Back to camp for brunch about noon. Off photographing again till late and then try to get back to camp before the diminishing glow of the setting sun left me in the dark. Although I have good lights on the bike, the country is just too rough to cover in the dark.

Hidden Dangers in the Desert

Although rare, this country is known to host the world’s most venomous snake, the inland taipan, as well as the king brown and several other dangerous species. There are also said to be scorpions about. I’m told that the dingoes have been eradicated from this area, south of the dog fence, but the nights were still pretty scary. Every time the breeze rustled the tent I’d wake, laying tense and listening for the sound of pads on the rocks. Needles to say, I gave my sleeping bag a good shake out before getting in each night.