I recently dug out some photos in the b+w archives from some photo trips that I made between the eastern Mt Lofty Ranges and the Murray Plains in the 1980s. I started remembering these old road trips in this part of the mid-north of South Australia –eg., Sedan, Cambrai and the Marne River— when I briefly revisited the area in 2019 and then when I explored it more throughly in 2020 whilst I was at the Lavender Trail Kapunda camp.
These photos appear to be related to, or an extension of, this roadtrip. They were possibly made around the same time or more than likely, just after that roadtrip to the Mt Lofty Ranges. I cannot quite remember. From what I can recall these are photos made on a day trip from Adelaide, as I don’t remember sleeping in the Kombi overnight on the roadtrips in the eastern Mt Lofty Ranges.
On the 1980s road trip I travelled along the Eudunda Rd, which runs parallel to the Mt Lofty Ranges between Truro and Eudunda through agricultural land. This area has a number of farm ruins which caught my eye. Ruins, including the old railway line to Cambrai and Sedan, are what initially stands out when travelling though this region for the first time.
I have scanned a few more archival images from those I made when I wandered around the urban part of the Port Adelaide precinct with a Leica in the late afternoon during winter. The Port had a gritty, grungy, industrial, working class character in the 1980s.
What drastically reduced the need for waterside labour at Port Adelaide’s inner harbour was the development of deep berths at Outer Harbour to accommodate larger ships, coupled with the introduction of bulk handling facilities and containerisation in the 1970s. The 1970s and 80s was also a period of general decline in raw material processing and manufacturing in the Port, with many mills, foundries and factories closing or relocating.
The result was that historic buildings were closed and even vandalized whilst shops in the main streets of the suburb were empty and boarded up. It was becoming a place of social and economic obsolescence, a derelict dockland – stagnant and lifeless.
As noted in some of the earlier posts in this blog the third section of The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia consists of the various road trips of different kinds that I made whilst I was living in Bowden, then Ovingham, and finally in the south-east corner of Adelaide.
This leaves the Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia project to be completed as a book. It will have 3 sections. The first one is on street photography in Melbourne (circa 1977-9) after I’d finishing studying at the Photography Studies College and snapshots in Adelaide. The middle section will consist of the Bowden photographs. The third section includes photographs made on various road trips around and outside of Adelaide.
The picture below would be part of the third section, if it makes the cut:
I have pulled the Bowden project from being published by Wakefield Press, who will now be publishing the Tasmanian Elegies project. The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia book will be published by Moon Arrow Press in 2021.
Whilst I was taking some scoping snaps with my digital camera I remembered some of the photos that I’d made in the 1980s in this general location. The image below is one of the images that I remembered making using a Linhof Technika 70:
I recalled that in the 1980s I was visually attracted by the bareness of this landscape. It was a stripped, overgrazed landscape with just the odd tree hanging on. There was very little in the way of replanting or Landcare.
In a previous post on this archival blog I had mentioned my shift from street photography to topographics during the 1980s. This shift emerged whilst I was photographing around Osborne, Gillman and Outer Harbor along the Port River estuary on the Le Fevre Peninsula.
This is an example of my topographic approach to industrial type urbanscapes—a wasteland, if you like– that was made in the 1980s:
Another version of the topographical approach to this wasteland or ravaged landscape that was made in the same photo-session is here.
I have been going through my 35mm archives looking through images from the 1980s to include in a possible artist book for the Mallee Routes project. This would be a book that is associated with the initial Mallee Routes exhibition at the Atkins Photo Lab in 2017.
At the exhibition I left a pile of small prints on a table for people to look at. It wasn’t a very successful mode of presentation. A book would be much better, if I have enough images.
I came across this image of an agricultural landscape in the eastern Mt Lofty Ranges amongst a number of other images of the Murray Mallee and the Riverland.
The picture was made with a Linhof Technika 70 in the same year as this image. From memory, it was taken a bit earlier the year. It was around 2004-5 when I was working as a staffer for a federal South Australian Senator. We had gone to see how little water there was on the floodplain during the decade long drought. Continue reading →
What the drought highlighted was the lack of environmental flows in the River Murray. Too much water had been taken by the upstream irrigators in Victoria, NSW and Queensland. So there had to be cutbacks to water extraction in order to ensure increased environmental flows for the river. That is when the politics over water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin erupted around the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (2012) that was based around water trading and water buybacks by the Commonwealth. Continue reading →
This picture of a melaleuca in the morning light was made on an early trip to the Coorong in South Australia in the late 1990s. We stayed at some cottages at a property called Gemini Downs, which was just north of Salt Creek. I remember that it was very cold at night and that the heating in the cabin was minimal.
This was an edgeland around Salt Creek and it was just outside the Coorong National Park. It used by fishermen to access the water, and from memory, there was a fishermans’ hut nearby. Continue reading →