My Story: This Land Completes Me
by Ann Britton 23 November 2013
Just after I turned 15, I moved from Brisbane to the Outback and on to one of the biggest cattle properties in Australia, Brunette Downs in the Northern Territory. This is where my love of photography was born. I felt I needed to not only learn the workings of a cattle station, but to capture on film, images of the station and inland Australia. Those images I could then share with others, while reliving and telling the stories of outback station life.
As far as I was concerned, history was being created all the time.
There were action packed moments at rodeos, while mustering mobs of cattle, during yard work with horses and even during those calmer moments sitting around camp fire yarning, or just watching the glorious outback sunsets.
Those moments in time, mainly innocuous, but always sublime, were recorded by me, for sharing.
After five years of Governessing on five different properties in the NT, around the Gulf and Winton areas, I found my soul mate Rick and “home”, at Goodwood Station.
My love and respect for this land has deepened as the years have rolled on, managing a working cattle property.
I’ve worked alongside Rick, had two kids and enjoyed having them grow and work alongside us. It has been a journey of learning; learning about our industry; learning about the land; learning about all those characters that walked before us and learning how they shaped the history that shapes our path.
This land completes me; I feel so much a part of it. I love the beauty of all of Australia’s diverse landscapes, but the wide open spaces of outback Queensland have captured my heart. I feel as one with the land.
My love for capturing Outback moments on film has never waned. My challenge is to capture nature’s beauty, her natural light, just the way it is.
As far as I am concerned, there is no need to photographically enhance the beauty of my home, which I see every day, whether it be during wet seasons, in the midst of drought, on chilly winter mornings, or on scorching summer days – mother nature is quite capable of speaking for herself. All I have to do is capture the moment.
The Outback has a language all of its own. It is like a book, open for us to read and we only have to study its signs to comprehend the land’s never ending story. Everything on the land and in the land has a story to tell; the shape and placement of the trees; the colour and size of the rocks and stones; the shape and width of the creeks.
We just have to take the time to observe, to acknowledge what we see and then reap the benefit of taking the time to get to know this land. Treat the land with disrespect and it has a harsh unforgiving attitude. Study it, heed its story and the land will repay you with endless insights.
I can listen to its silence and feel a connection to its ancient cycles. I can feel its pain when it is drained of life giving water during drought and I can feel the anticipation of an awakening when long anticipated, reviving rains, finally arrive.
I steal glorious instances of Mother Nature’s beauty; I capture momentary explosions of energy as rough stock leave chutes, or a man and horse work as one: I save the candid moments of Outback personalities; I file away all those magical moments of our Outback lives; I share them all through my photographs.
When I take my photographs and then share them, I hope I can make the viewer feel as though they are a part of those historical moments, able to sense the atmosphere and power of the land and all that is in it and of how humbling it is to be a part of this ancient land.
There have been many people on this photography journey with me, but as I said it all started at Brunette Downs.
The Gough Family, Brian, Shirley, Kathi and Amanda, gave a 15 year old an opportunity, welcomed me into their family, which I will be forever grateful for and my Outback adventure began and hasn’t finished.
While I was writing this, another special person kept coming to mind. It is my good friend Kelsey Neilson. Kelsey has a way with words and she also has the uncanny knack of knowing exactly how to caption my photos, especially the landscapes. Her captions seem to coincide with what and how I feel, because Kelsey has the same sense of connection to our piece of the Outback and the same sense of recognition of places, events and people.
That’s beautiful Ann. I think we share a similar feeling for our land.
Thanks Elizabeth, it is a special feeling isn’t it? Very rewarding, Ann
Hi Anne loved all the photographs The one taken from the jump-ups bring back memories of working around Winton and Castle Hill Station doing the cultural heritage study of that area. Have a similar photgraphs taken from the top of castle Hill.
G’day Gail, Yes our country boundaries Winton Shire. Those hills were featured, for a few seconds, in the Scooby Doo movie, of all things. Ha ha. Our daughter and friend watched the movie while at boarding school, scanned the movie to see them and both pointed when they appeared & had enough time to say “there they are” and they were gone again. They have so much history about them, when our land was an inland sea, they seem old souls of our country. Ann
I absolutely loved this post. My appreciation for this beautiful land is just enormous, and I love living in the middle of nowhere. Your photos really capture the essence of this life far away from the city, beautiful.
I’m really pleased that you loved it Nathalia. I greatly appreciate your kind words about my photography but your appreciation of the beauty, I have the pleasure of capturing, by the sounds you are already living amongst it, which is wonderful, Ann
I understand completely … actually I was just going to write ‘agreed’ but thought wow that isn’t a great comment. I fell in love with photography or is it became obsessed with it because I wanted to capture the moments around me and the beauty of this changing land no matter where it is. This land can grab you and tie you to it so easily when you look for the beauty in everything in every moment. What memories you have to share of it all, what memories we all have. To me photos are like you said a snapshot of what I’ve seen, they are a memory to look back on and to share.
G’day Anne lovely to read a like minded photographers understanding of what I have conveyed in this blog. I often think of capturing a moment as making history, most likely all the elements in that shot will never be exactly that way again. I think making the photos as special as how you yourself see them and sharing can and does bring memories for others, even if not exactly the same place or situation, which again makes photography a wonderful medium of communication. Ann
You have captured the Outback beautifully Ann. We can feel the pull of the outback as we enjoy your countryside so much.
Thanks Uncle Noel and Aunty Lynette, It is always great to see our visitors relax that little bit more when they visit us. It is also lovely when they return and bring friends to experience our home with us. Thanks for your comments on Facebook too. Love Ann PS I will ring, honest, soon xo
The ‘Story’ in photo’s, is absolutely stunning. Thankyou Ann for sharing this with all of us. Bob Roma Qld, formerly Central NSW
My absolute pleasure Bob, glad you dropped by for a look and you took the time to leave a very kind comment which I value greatly, thanks Ann
Ann, you were amazing governess and the first teacher that made an impact on my life, of all the teachers I had in my school years it is my governesses that I remember and am still in contact with. Your photography is beautiful and captures the natural beauty of the Australian outback and nature.
Oh Kathi, you are too kind (made me very emotional) treasure your comments. Some extremely cherished memories inside and outside the school room from Brunette, a huge impact on my life those two years. So pleased you enjoyed me being one of your Governesses, as I was so pleased and very lucky to have you as my first student. Ann xo
Thank you so much for sharing just a small part of what must truly have been a wonderful life to date. I too have felt that bond with this great land. Sitting on a rock out in the middle of nowhere, I ‘Belonged’. How I wish I could get back to it and recapture that feeling for the rest of my days. Thank you for you wonderful words and photo’s.
Extremely sorry for late reply.
Thanks for taking the time to write a comment, it is so special to have a connection with the land.
I’m sure Gail even if you can’t be on the land physically your memories of sitting on a rock in the middle of no where can take you back there, even for a little while.
Sharing my photos and story is my pleasure, Ann
Spectacular is one of many words that jumps to mind. Thanks for sharing your photos and thoughts of your part of paradise here in Oz. I live near the coast and farm is only hobby not way of life. Must be an incredible lifestyle that you have and I feel lucky to have found your site. Thank you
Appreciate your kind words, thanks.
I certainly feel wonderfully blessed to live where I do, to be able to use today’s technology and share this with others I enjoy very much. This countries natural light is amazing and photographic challenging to capture, a challenge I love and never tire of.
I apologise for the late reply, Ann
I am humbled, truly you have a deep affinity with this arid harsh ancient land of ours. Red dust runs in your veins. Magnificent landscapes magnificent country.
Perhaps in a few years i to can escape this city existence and go home to where the skies are big and the stars burn brighter
You can return home any time that you want Peter, cause it is in your heart and still pumping through your veins. But I can understand completely the real need to stand amongst the red dust in this magnificent country.
I am the one that is humbled Peter, cause I strive to make readers “see and feel” my passion and connection via my photos and you got it. You being able to do that is my great pleasure, so thank you very much.